...This was a common strategy around that time for people who wanted to kill themselves. There were around 300 recorded cases, most of them women. Immediately upon committing the crime, they run to the court. They confess what they have done and demand their own execution, knowing that before they go to the gallows, they will have a chance to confess. And if they're truly repentant, they'll go to Heaven. They kill a child because the child is seen as being in a state of innocence. So you might possibly be doing the child a favor, because the child will also go to Heaven. You will go to Heaven, too.
...Such suicides by proxy started in the mid 1600s. By 1700, officials in European cities were starting to notice this new trend of people murdering children so that they would get executed. And the officials tried to adjust the laws to stop it. In 1702, officials in Nuremberg made the execution more painful and shameful for these cases. It didn't work. In 1767, they finally did the only logical thing to close this loophole. People were killing children because they wanted to get the death penalty. They removed the death penalty for this kind of case. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-a
This is how life imprisonment without parole had began.
A humane alternative it never was.