While I focus a lot of research on crimes that are committed in the United States, and unfortunately there are no shortage of them, I also like to keep up with what is happening in other justice systems. This week in England, a serial killer was sentenced. There were two particularly unusual details about this event. First, the criminal was ordered to remain in prison for a “whole life term.” The second is that the criminal is a woman.
Male serial killers outnumber females by a wide proportion, which is consistent to the disparity in violent crime statistics overall. But there is no doubt that Joanne Dehenny is a killer. She stabbed three men to death, and attempted to kill two others the same way. Her reason? Just to see if she was as cold and indifferent to human life as she imagined she was. Turns out, she discovered that she liked killing and she was diagnosed with paraphilia sadomasochism, which means she was sexually excited by the pain and humiliation of others.
The fact that the 31-year-old mother of two will spend the rest of her life behind bars is of note as well. This marks only the third time in English criminal history that a woman has been sentenced to life in jail, a punishment that Dehenny found amusing. England has no death penalty and the appeals court of the land just upheld recently that putting someone in prison until she dies is lawful, so such a sentence is not taken lightly.
I’m glad that Dehenny is behind bars, as it appears that she would not have any qualms about killing again. She still has a potentially long life ahead of her and hopefully now will get some treatment, both for the sake of her two young children and so that perhaps criminal psychologists can learn more about what makes some minds operate in this way.
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