On this day, in 1972, France performed its last execution. Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems were guillotined for killing a prison guard and a prison nurse. Buffet was serving a life sentence for murder, and Bontems was serving 20 years for assault.
I was able to research Buffets childhood. He grew up in a violent situation with an alcoholic father. Both he and Bontems served in the military before being arrested for violent crimes. I did not find any information on Bontems’ childhood.
I was struck by 2 things while reading about this:
1. The guillotine was used for 20th century executions.
2. People are products of their upbringing.
I was watching a discussion of Charlie Manson on TV with my daughter, and she was amazed that people believed that his childhood, during which he was repeatedly, violently victimized, didn’t, at least partially, account for what Charlie Manson became. No, he was “born bad”.
I have no idea what I thought when Manson was convicted, except that he was terrifying. I was pretty young, but looking back, I thought the 1970s were a time of modern sensibilities, but France was still executing people, and we believed that children are born bad.
Hopefully, some day, the USA will catch up to France on the execution part.