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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 12:48 GMT
Justice done or denied?

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, has ruled that the killers of James Bulger, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, should each serve eight years in prison. This ruling means that they could be released within months.

The Bulger family had campaigned for a longer prison sentence, and the detective who led the murder inquiry told the BBC that he thought a 15-year sentence was more realistic given the magnitude of the crime.

Has justice been done or denied? Tell us what you think.

This debate is now closed. Your comments:

Are we really saying that some people are completely beyond forgiveness and rehabilitation?

Fea, England
Are we really saying that some people are completely beyond forgiveness and rehabilitation? If so, who is going to name the level of wrongdoing at which that principle kicks in? And, if that is the case, why not just bring back the death penalty and be done with it altogether? The criminal justice system operates on the level of retribution and "stigmatised shame", neither of which, incidentally, operates in the Bible which is still supposed to underpin our Western philosophy. In any case, it is abundantly clear that retributive justice does not work and, more importantly is not succeeding in its primary remit of creating a safe society.
Fea, England

Tony Martin got four years for defending himself against potentially violent intruders. These thugs get eight years for kidnapping, torturing and killing a helpless toddler. Please, someone tell me this is a sick joke.
John B, UK

Why weren't any of the parents of the two boys charged with the corruption of minors? Apparently, one of the parents had hired over 200 snuff and horror videos in a two year period. Don't children of that age copy what their fathers do?
Margaret Howard, England

More thought should go to the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators

Abdullah, Saudi Arabia
Under Islamic law, as I understand it, the punishment for pre-meditated murder is death unless the family of the murdered person accepts blood money for the loss of their loved one. Some may criticise this approach as barbaric but I am of the view that it is the correct one as it is just (an eye for an eye) but also allows for the people most hurt to forgive. It is all very well suggesting that society should determine whether Venables and Thompson have paid for their crime but ask yourself, what would you want if it happened to you? More thought should go to the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators.
Abdullah, Saudi Arabia

The justice system uses judge and jury to sentence people, not family members of victims, nor police who investigate the crime in question. Were this not the case then any claims to "blind" justice would be fraudulent. The Bulger case is emotive and has resulted in a population of people who know very little about the case being asked to judge two little boys. Justice is as much for the guilty as the innocent.
Duncan Drury, UK

Why all the talk of justice for the killers? There has been no justice for the mother and certainly none for the murdered child. Let's remember the victim and his parents. They have suffered even more than the murderers.
M. B. Brown, England

Once the original trial concluded, there should have been a ban on all coverage of this case. For the reason, you only need to look at the appalling attitude of some contributors here and the frightening lynch mob mentality at the original trial. It was inevitable that whenever these boys were released, there would be outrage from the parents and the hang/ flog brigade. Mary Bell was released into the community after an equally terrible crime. At the time, there was nothing like the hysteria now whipped up by the Sun and Daily Mail.
One of the few sensible ones, England

Our citizens have a right to be protected by the law

Keith Baldwin, UK
I am extremely concerned that the perpetrators of such a vile crime can be released and protected at the cost of the British taxpayer. I know that this is a highly emotive case, but when will we learn in this country that we need to be tough on crime. No-one I speak to feels that any crime carries a severe enough punishment to act as a deterrent. I do not say this lightly as I would not be altogether comfortable with the idea of just exterminating the most evil in our society, but equally our citizens have a right to be protected by the law. I fear that if we do not move away from this increasingly liberal attitude to crime, we may end up paying a terrible price.
Keith Baldwin, UK

If the law says their sentence has been served then they need to be released. If justice has been done then they ought to be released. I thought that justice has to be 'seen to be done' - but who decides this? If popular opinion does not see this then perhaps justice and the sentence are not served and the law needs to be reviewed.
Jim Lowery, UK

Whether releasing the boys now is a good idea or not depends entirely on them. Have they learnt their lesson? Are they now appalled by what they did for more than just the consequences it brought on them? If they have become different people then they should be released. If they are still explosive characters who would perhaps do something similar again, then they should stay locked up. Someone must have had enough contact with them to be able to tell. If they are released they should never be able to benefit financially from their crime by selling any stories or versions etc.
Louise, UK

My opinion on this case is that the two boys responsible for killing that little boy should be locked up until they die or should be given to the parents of James Bulger so justice can be done.
Mark Scouler, Britain

Whenever these two young men get released, there will be vast outcries that they haven't suffered enough from the hang-em and flog-em brigade. This decision has been taken after due process. Anyone who thinks that 8-years loss of liberty is not punishment should try it themselves! The two boys are allowed out after 8-years, it does NOT mean they will be let out. They have to persuade the parole board that they have learnt their lesson and are not dangerous. They will never have a normal life and that is perhaps punishment enough.
A. Reasonable Bloke, UK

Put them in an adult prison and leave them there

Chris Mcdermott, UK
Those monsters inflicted the most horrific assault on a toddler. The agony and fear that child must have endured makes me feel ill. Incredibly there is still no shortage of misguided, sanctimonious fools lining up to support and defend these two. Put them in an adult prison and leave them there.
Chris Mcdermott, UK

I don't know what is more disturbing. The horrific murder of James Bulger or the violent reaction that has been stoked up against his murderers

Kenneth Little
I don't know what is more disturbing. The horrific murder of James Bulger or the violent reaction that has been stoked up against the toddlers murderers. I remember the scenes outside the trial of Venables and Thomas. Hysterical crowds baying for the blood of the child murderers. Who did they want to hang. Two 10-year old boys? I believe that justice has been done. The boys were given a fair trial and were found guilty and committed to care. They have not got away with murder. Who in their right mind can claim that having your liberty taken away from age 10 to 18 is a soft option? If the boys have served their tariff and are rehabilitated then they should be released. That is justice.
Kenneth Little

My little boy was born in December 1992 and each year I think of the Bulger family at this time and will always do so. My heart weeps for these parents and their families and for Jamie's suffering. I do not believe that the "mob" want revenge but rather that as a society we not only believe in rehabilitation but in punishment as well. The boys knew what they were doing. They had plenty of opportunity to stop before they got to the railway line.
Sara, UK

Throwing stones at windows and bending car aerials are examples of child crime. Murder is an adult crime and, as such, should carry and adult tariff. 15 years seems a fair sentence - they will be out of prison by the time they're 25 and will have most of their lives ahead of them - unlike Jamie Bulger.
Ed Bayley, USA (English)

They deserve a second chance

Jenny Wookey, England
The two boys deserve a chance to live a life. They have paid for what they have done and have spent what is supposed to be the happiest days of their life in prison. They deserve a second chance.
Jenny Wookey, England

Pouring paint in someone's eyes, throwing bricks at their head, fracturing their skull with a railway sleeper, etc. that is not "some childish role play that went horribly wrong" as someone wrote earlier. That is the mark of an evil person. And someone also said that one life had already been destroyed; let's not destroy two others. Wasn't this person thinking about James' mum and family? This is not revenge. I would call it justice. Justice for James, his family and for other future victims.
Alessandra, London, UK

The main problem as regards this issue is that it is being clouded by, on the one hand, hatred and a worrying thirst for revenge, and on the other, a rather misled belief in the British legal system and the rather abstract notion of "justice". Granted, what these two did was horrible and warranted a longer sentence. Yet, what is important are the lessons that must be learned from this tragic story. Firstly, a review of sentencing and parole should be carried out, with the emphasis on tougher sentences which act as a deterrent. Secondly, we should be tough on the causes of crime; this doesn't mean wholesale condemnation of the merest offence, but each and everyone of us taking on our responsibilities: to others, to help those in distress or in need; to our children, to educate them as to what is right and wrong, to care and look after them instead of seeing them as a burden, to help them develop into well-balanced responsible citizens.
Roland, France (UK expatriate)

Do we really want politicians to meddle in what should be retribution, but not vengeance, in what should be fair, and not biased?

Pascal Jacquemain, UK
The crime these 2 committed is horrible, the pain suffered by the child and his parents unbearable. Yet, the justice system has decided that they should be given a chance, that they should not be mixed with criminals in a "proper" jail. People may have their own opinions as to what these 2 should serve. But should politicians, whose goal is to be re-elected by pleasing the public, not by being right, decide how long criminals should serve behind bars? In the USA, elected officials have a huge influence as to what sentence convicted murderers serve, and in a number of cases, it is the death penalty. This leads to huge disparities where the same offence in a county will lead the convict to the needle, while in the neighbouring county, in the same state, to life behind bars (and that means life) or less. The same problem occurs with the race and sex of the victim (you'd better not have killed a white woman in Texas for instance). Do we really want politicians to meddle in what should be retribution, but not vengeance, in what should be fair, and not biased?
Pascal Jacquemain, UK (French)

I agree that the killers of little Jamie Bulger should be made to serve some time in an adult prison before being released. Having said that I would like to point out that the 1960s child killer Mary Bell has since been released back into society and as far as I know has not re-offended. Surely these boys should be given a similar chance preferably, well away from their original homes? I also hope that our government is studying ways of sentencing these child killers in such a way that their misguided supporters cannot get the sentence or punishment shortened by appealing to the so-called European Court of Human Rights.
B. McGarry, Wales

The way in which sentences in the United Kingdom are subject to revision (based on EU directives versus the "outrage" of the tabloids) is a scandal. Just remember that the advocates of changing sentences for political reasons are the same scoundrels that would allow double jeopardy, suspend habeas corpus simply because a senior policeman says he has evidence that he can't reveal, and remove the right of the accused to face their accuser in a rape trial. Slippery slope? It's a vertical face coated in Teflon.
Wally, England

I am still appalled and angry that such a thing went on. I feel for the loss of the Bulger family. Now it is my turn as a law student to analyse this whole case, I feel that while the Bulger killers were old enough to know right form wrong I do not believe they knew what they were doing or what the repercussions of their actions would bring. But I do feel that they should serve at least 12 years in prison for what they have done, whether they be children or not.
Emma Lipman, England

In my opinion, the two boys did do wrong and they must realise by now that they did bad. Kids at the age of ten don't know right from wrong as they are only children. I do sympathise with Jamie's parents. I think that the law must change and give any minor, (aged under sixteen), half the life sentence of an adults for murder.
Lindsey Carr, Derby, England

A lot of people seem to be saying that they will have to live with what they did for the rest of their lives. That only works if they feel any remorse over what they did. If they are truly evil they don't have to live with it at all, because they don't give a damn!
Jenny, England

Just how does harsh punishment "serve the victims"?

Nigel Whittington, UK
Just how does harsh punishment "serve the victims"? If Thompson and Venables had been torn limb from limb by the lynch mob that roamed Liverpool at the time of the killing would it have made it easier for them to come to terms with the horrific death of Jamie? I really don't think so.
Nigel Whittington, UK

What they did was absolutely terrible, but they were children who did a dreadful thing and now they are adults. After all, Mary Bell came out to a normal life with a husband and child. She is no danger to society now and her crime as a child was just as bad.
Christina Weston, UK

I am all with what Lord Chief Justice Woolf has done and that it was a brave decision for him to make in light of baying mobs of people and media crying out for blood vengeance for what Venables and Thompson did. No one is making excuses for what they did. Indeed it was an abhorrent crime that they carried out and that crime will be with them the rest of their adult lives. Who says that their punishment will stop once they leave detention. It won't. Simple as that really. P.S. The Bulger case has also highlighted the hypocritical attitude we have toward children in this country. Take Louise Woodward. She kills an innocent child and is treated as a martyr by the British media. Why the difference?
Simon Campbell, UK

You can not keep people locked up forever.
Emma Hockley, England

It is all of us who have allowed society to sink to such a depraved leve

Richard, Holland
The circumstances of this terrible murder filled everyone with revulsion, but to turn it all only onto the two perpetrators lets off the real guilty ones in my opinion. It is all of us who have allowed society to sink to such a depraved level, the parents who sit back whilst their children watch video nasties, the lad culture that glorifies the Friday night punch-up and degrading of women. The society that has so little respect for human values that the only thing that will bring people onto the streets is a few lousy pence on a gallon of petrol, whilst education and health services sink into the abyss. I really suspect that a good number of the contributors to this forum would have happily watched those boys being hung drawn and quartered outside Preston Crown Court 7 years ago. I am sickened for the country I love.
Richard, Holland

One previous comment mentioned our so-called civilised society. The petrol fiasco just about proved that we are a couple of steps away from a selfish anarchy. A true civilised society of people is one that wants to behave properly and will not tolerate the minority who want to destroy it. The only way to do that is to set a deterrent which sadly is not something I see being done here.
Tony, UK

Nothing can bring James back, and no-one can move on whilst we live in 1993, which is what people are doing

Karl, UK
There is a difference between an adult and a ten year old. People speak of 'they knew what they were doing' as if it's a simple 'knowing' or 'not knowing'. Awareness of the consequences and significance of an action develops over time. At 10 it is far from developed. They may have known they would kill someone, but I doubt they had an adult understanding of what that really means. It's like kids who drop concrete blocks on cars from bridges. The young mind cannot fully comprehend exactly what it means. These boys are now eighteen. They are different people. We all are different people when we are eighteen from when we are ten. Nothing can bring James back, and no-one can move on whilst we live in 1993, which is what people are doing.
Karl, UK

If these two could commit such a horrible crime at the age of 10 - and don't kid yourselves this was a childish game gone wrong - what could they be capable of now? It is true that none of us know anything about the personalities of these boys now, but I believe that they showed a fundamental evil by killing Jamie Bulger. Phil Saum says on here that he can't believe the hatred and need for revenge shown on here - I think these are perfectly natural reactions to a horrific crime and isn't all punishment - and therefore all criminal sentences - revenge?
Anne, UK

I note the contrast between this case and the Moors murderers. In the mid-60's they are sentenced to a 'real' life sentence, and notwithstanding the European Court of Rights, it would appear that they will never be released. Woe to the Home Secretary who would dare to. Less than 30 years later, another abominable crime is committed, and 8 years is enough. Where is it going to end?
Ken Beach, Germany

The self-righteous attitude of James Bulger's parents seemingly knows no bounds. Whilst I accept this is a very difficult decision for them to accept, who are they to assume they know more about human rights or the law than learned counsel and judges. That they display no understanding of the difficulties now facing Venables & Thompson displays an ignorant and uneducated selfishness of the highest order. If we give in to their requests to review this case, we may as well accept that bigoted council-estate mentality mob rule has replaced true democracy.
Paul Sullivan, UK

The main question is how much damage will be done to these two young men if they are sent to an adult jail?

Dominic, UK
The main question is how much damage will be done to these two young men if they are sent to an adult jail? Surely if they are released in a few years time they will know all about robbery, hotwiring cars etc and become hardcore thugs. At the moment they may still retain some "innocence" as their teens have been very sheltered from violence and anti-social habits. Although they are guilty of a really bad crime I would rather see them released now to get a job and be normal than to be released later in life only knowing how to be a hardcore criminal.
Dominic, UK

Thompson and Venables were ten. There are two aspects to the justice system - retribution and rehabilitation. In no way can the state consider retribution in the case of ten year olds! If they were 'evil' that itself was - could only be - a function of their environment as children. All those responsible for their environment should think about that. Of cause they already have. Those who shout the loudest, and threaten the lives of Thompson and Venables are also those who harbour the most guilt. This is how they cover and try to conceal it.
Ric, UK

Shame on those out there that demand retribution and cling to the philosophy of hate and un-forgiveness. Children who commit crimes are a product of the environment and experience has shown that, given suitable care, they can become useful members of society. The real punishment for these ex-boys is that they must come to terms with their own actions.
Phil Eadie, UK

The real issue we have to deal with is a society which produces children that commit such acts

Andrew, UK
The problem with the understandable and righteous anger expressed towards these two boys is that it diverts our attention from the real problem. By locking them up, we are tempted to feel that we have dealt with the problem. We have not. The real issue we have to deal with is a society which produces children that commit such acts.
Andrew, UK

No, justice has not been served - again. These two knew very well what they were doing to that little boy and must have known it was very wrong! They should be locked up for at least 15 years. Who cares that their "lives have been ruined" - what about that little boy who was never given a chance. My heart goes out to his family.
Catherine, UK

Thank god there are one or two voices of reason on this page. The majority of people don't want justice, they want revenge. The prime consideration should be whether the boys are likely to offend again. If not, they should be released as soon as possible. This baying for blood has no place in a civilised society.

The question is better to be "who to blame"? It has happened 7 years ago, it will happen again. Have you heard an 11 year old rapes a 13 year old?? Let's be realistic, let's start to have, to produce, to experience healthy family life, otherwise we suffer as we do so much every single day in this country.
Minoo Mohebi, UK

What kind of message does this parole send to other potential murderers considering taking a young life

Tony Hill, UK
What kind of message does this parole send to other potential murderers considering taking a young life. There is no element of deterrent in the sentencing system used today.
Tony Hill, UK

A child's behaviour is a product of parental and societal guidance. What happens when one does not have control of one's child [disciplining a child in a caring way)?
Koku, Tanzania

It is ludicrous that these two boys/men are being treated as the victims rather than the offenders that they are. No matter how sorry and remorseful they are, the fact is that they deliberately tortured and killed a vulnerable young child whose only crime was to follow them unknowingly to his death. If they were truly remorseful, they would accept their sentence and serve it out instead of trying to use a "get out of jail" card. It is high time we stop giving killers a pat on the back and serving them tea and coffee before letting them go.
OL, NSW Australia

Hang them, lock them up for life etc. Are we living in the year 1000 or 2000? Children are children and should be treated as such whatever the circumstances.
Jan, Belgium

They should be transfered to an adult prison and made to serve at least 15 years

Tracy, Saudi Arabia
How can 8 years possibly be enough for what those boys did to Jamie. They have never spent a day in an adult prison. Instead they have lived in what could be classed as a secure boarding home, probably getting the best of education. If these boys are so sorry for what they have done, why have they never apologised to the family of Jamie? To those that say that at 10 they didn't know what they were doing and now deserve to be free, ask yourself this - would you want them living next door to you and your 2 year old? They should be transfered to an adult prison and made to serve at least 15 years, that would give them a taste of what they deserve for this terrible crime.
Tracy, Saudi Arabia

Surely the issue is not justice, the issue now is the law. If the law states that these two young men have served their sentence and are eligible for parole then they should have that consideration. If we as a society are unhappy with this then the debate should move unto the current state of the law.
Paul, England

It was really a time for calm, reflective thought. It is entirely possible that the two boys' futures are already ruined beyond repair

Phil Day, England
Justice and retribution are being confused by many people. No-one is saying that the two boys should be released now or indeed within the next few years. However, it will serve no-one if they are left for 15 years or more, to pay for crimes committed when they were just 10 years old. Society is paying the price for its knee-jerk reaction to the initial crime, when the baying of the crowds swayed politicians (and to a lesser extent the police and judiciary) into hasty, unsound decisions. It was really a time for calm, reflective thought. It is entirely possible that the two boys' futures are already ruined beyond repair. The country has many released murderer walking the streets who go on to lead full active and peaceful lives. Thompson and Venables should be given this chance when the social workers and those educating them feel it is right, not when the 'mob' decide.
Phil Day, England

At least in my country it is very exceptional if a person at age of 12 years isn't fully able to understand what this is doing and be aware of consequences. Yet also here they are treated as children. I find this wrong. Otherwise I do not support the revenge mentality of some parents and relatives. The matter is for the society to solve because there are many more parents and victims and convicts where circumstances might speak for different solution than an individual loss of individual parents.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland

I believe they should be released, but under very with strict supervision to begin with. Is it fair to judge someone, and condemn them to a life in prison for actions they committed when they were ten? I really believe it's not. Think back to when you were ten, and think about how you viewed the world that age. I know when I was ten I did many things that I now look back and regret (although obviously I didn't do anything as extreme as committing murder). At the time I did realise the things I was doing were bad, but I didn't fully understand the implications of my actions, and I believe there is a possibility that the two youths in question were in a similar situation. If this is the case (which I know is difficult to prove either way) then I don't see how keeping them locked up in prison for the rest of their lives is in any way going to help the situation.
Phil, UK

If 10 year old children really don't know right from wrong, and can't be expected to understand that murdering toddlers isn't the done thing - as apologists for this pair would have us believe - we should be seeing children murdering each other routinely. We don't, because in reality no normal child thinks it right to murder another - even at 3 years, let alone 10. Jamie Bulger's murder was premeditated, protracted and sadistic, and his killers were sly enough to try and disguise their crime by having his body mutilated by a train. Still, eight years confinement is bound to have changed them. Isn't it...?
Paul Hicks, UK

they will be living with what they have done for the rest of their lives

Liam Fisher, UK
I find no reason why they should be treated differently to anyone else. In terms of justice, they will be living with what they have done for the rest of their lives, just because they leave prison, it doesn't mean the punishment has ended. I agree that politicians should not be able to set sentences, they are usually motivated by immediate political impression.
Liam Fisher, UK

I don't see how we can release IRA killers by the busload, and probably pay them welfare as well, and not release these two kids.
Jon Livesey, USA

My heart goes out to the Bulger family

Tony Hague, England
First of all, it is very important to differentiate between law and "justice". These two are really only loosely connected. The law has decided and requires that the two boys, or young men as they have now become, be eligible for parole after serving eight years. However, whether justice could EVER be seen to be served is a very difficult question, given the terrible and unique nature of the crime committed. For the Bulger family and close ones, I suspect that there is no possible way that justice could ever be done, not even locking up the two perpetrators for the rest of their natural lives. My heart goes out to the Bulger family now, as it did then. Their sentence is for life!
Tony Hague, England

What a sad day. Another case of out-of-touch judges being influenced by a bunch of unelected Eurocrats. Britain disolves ever closer into anarchy, with no-one willing or able to uphold simple moral rules. Parents, teachers and the police are forbidden to correct misbehaving children and when they go completely off the rails it would appear that the law is on THEIR side. What about the victims?
S. Marshall, UK

We all need somebody to vilify. As children we pick on the black kid, the fat kid or the ginger kid. As we get older we realise that society doesn't accept that and so instead we take the moral high ground against perverts and criminals. At least we can still feel superior to somebody. The day these two boys were convicted, a mob surrounded their escort baying for their blood. They are, it would seem, a product of their society.
Sully, UK

Since I have read the details of this horrific crime, I have been haunted day and night by the image of that child being led away. I have cried and wept for his parents, for them to have gone through this agonising ordeal. It is my opinion that these two boys are getting away with murder. They knew what they were doing 7 years ago and I feel that they should either remain behind bars or suffer the same indignities that that child did. I have no feelings for the boys except hatred and disgust. I really feel that this is a situation where age should have nothing to do with conviction. I hope that for the rest of their lives, hopefully short as can be, that they will never forget that child. I cannot even stand the thought of them entering society again.
Victoria Dietterick, USA

No way! They have not paid for the torture they put that little boy through. They might have only been youngsters but it was obviously planned and therefore they should have to pay for pre-meditated murder. Little James didn't get all of this care and attention spent on him. He lost his life and so should these two murderers.
Angela Severn-Morrell, England

The chances are it will be someone else's family who suffers when these 'boys' make another 'mistake

Who are the experts who will decide this? There are none. Those two boys slaughtered James Bulger in a truly disgusting way. This panel and His Lordship should be very careful about their release. Most of us here wouldn't let a 'panel of social workers' decide on lunch, let alone the release of murderers. Of course the chances are it will be someone else's family who suffers when these 'boys' make another 'mistake'.

They knew what they were doing, I did when I was 10 years old. If they didn't, institutionalise them at a secure location. They should stay inside and learn some of the fear and horror that little Jamie, his parents, family and the nation suffered. Christianity teaches us to forgive but it also tells us not to murder, I can forgive when they have served for the crime.
Richard, UK

Can we really claim to be living in a civilised society when such a level of hatred and hunger for revenge is evident on this forum?
Phil Saum, UK

For us to have faith in justice, it must be seen to be done

Dennis, UK
Whilst it might not be right for politicians to intervene on judicial matters, as long as the judiciary come up with such ridiculously lenient sentences, it just proves how out of touch they are with the mood (and the fears) of the common people. For us to have faith in justice, it must be seen to be done. Clearly that is not the case on this occasion.
Dennis, UK

My heart goes out to the family of James Bulger. It seems unbelievable that people saw the toddler in distress and with injury to his head and did nothing as he was being led away. These are signs of the malaise of today's hi-tech societies wherein none of us have time to even bother or think of our neighbours and people around us. We are simply too busy and too selfish doing our own work.
George Mathew, USA

The law needs to be changed drastically, children know they can get away with MURDER

John Paton, UK
Legally it seems, children can "think for themselves" and "know right from wrong" from the age of 12 years. However, children from 12years to 16 years seem to escape full punishment (including jail) for crimes such as: violence, drug dealing, theft, muggings, damage to property and MURDER!!
This is not a severe enough sentence, the child they killed has lost their "right to live", so why should they deserve such pity? The law needs to be changed drastically, children know they can get away with MURDER....this is why they are used as pawns by adult criminals of all kinds.
John Paton, UK

It is a sad day for England, Justice has NOT been done, you can kill someone now go to jail and get a free education and come out after a few years. That poor family has been destroyed by those two boys. Always remember that they get to live.
Grace Panoff, Canada

It's very sad that killers of this brutal murder should be released in a few month's time. In fact this tells me how loose the British criminal laws and European as a whole are with murders getting away with hardly any punishment for hideous crimes they commit. That's a shame to justice.
Charles Yeboah, Germany

Only those with access to Venables and Thompson can have a real view of whether either is still a threat

Our judicial system is supposed to protect the public and punish the offender, therefore acting as a deterrent to others. It is NOT a vehicle for revenge.
Only those with access to Venables and Thompson can have a real view of whether either is still a threat or whether the whole gruesome crime was some childish role play that went horribly wrong. If this was the case I can well understand the reluctance to send them to an adult prison.
The media and public cannot make an informed judgement no matter how much we would wish to. Society is however entitled to some kind of reassurance so if they are released, I hope it will be on licence, allowing them to be returned to jail for the remainder of the 15 year term if there is any return to violence or targeting of children.

It can never be right to allow politicians to determine the sentence of a convicted person

Henry H, England
It can never be right to allow politicians to determine the sentence of a convicted person. Michael Howard was swayed by the public's revulsion at the way in which James Bulger was murdered. In the heat of the mood of public passion a politician is going to respond to his basest instincts and do the populist thing. That is why we have an independent judiciary which can coolly weigh up the all the elements of the case.
Henry H, England

Age does not excuse what those two boys did

Martin, England
Age does not excuse what those two boys did, wilfully, not accidentally. Society (and the culprits) should never be allowed to forget what they did: the concept of "no longer a danger" and "punished sufficiently" is one that I find abhorrent. Judges should only be allowed the final say on sentences if they agree with the wishes of society and the victim. They need to be accountable, not loose canons.
Martin, England

These two should never be released. They are evils. They deserve life sentence for what they have done!
Geoffrey Wang, UK

What is happening to the judicial system in this country. Again the criminal has been put before the victims. How can it be right to get longer for robbery than for murder. This was premeditated, not done on the spur of the moment. For 10 year olds to even think about doing such a thing is beyond belief. They should be kept out of society for a far longer time than 8 years. 25 years is more in keeping with the crime they committed.
Jeanette Racey, England

We can do nothing now about one of those lives - that of Jamie Bulger - but we must do all we can to prevent the destruction of two more

Martyn, UK
Justice is done - so far. Now it is crucial that the professionals caring for these two boys get the next bit right - and only release them when they are no longer a danger to society. If that stage is reached soon, they should be released soon - and given every possible help to rebuild lives that have clearly been shattered by events in 1993. If as a society, we fail to do this, we are condoning the destruction of three lives, because of the actions of two 11 year olds. We can do nothing now about one of those lives - that of Jamie Bulger - but we must do all we can to prevent the destruction of two more.
Martyn, UK

Justice denied. No room for negotiation here. Think how Denise & Ralph feel today.
Jill, UK

The horror of it is that it could have happened to any of us...The killers, although only 10 at the time, planned the act...they therefore deserve the full 15 years...and quite honestly they deserve life...there is no cure for murder.
Jonathan, Denmark

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