What makes murder, murder? How should we understand the difference between intentional and reckless killing? Should offenders be punished differently according to the perceived severity of their crime and when should they be excused?
These questions are the topic of intense debate within legal circles and beyond in the UK, the US, and the rest of world. Jeremy Horder's role as the Law Commissioner for England and Wales on criminal law has given him unique insight into these questions and the debates surrounding them. Here he analyses the recent political and legal reform movements, offering a political history of homicide law reform from the 19th century to the modern era.
Using homicide as a starting point, Horder raises deeper questions of who is and should be responsible for making and changing the law. What role should there be for expert bodies, judges, and politicians? What role should there be for the general public? These are technical legal issues but ones which invoke strong emotional responses. By examining these questions, Horder offers an insider's view into the processes of achieving law reform and expresses criticism of a system that excludes the vast majority of people from consultation on reform of the laws that govern them.