Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Letters. We got letters.

Several death penalty-related letters to the editor from New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey surfaced today. Each has an interesting perspective to offer. We thought we'd share:


An imperfect system discredits death penalty
I am not one of the "bleeding hearts" who are soft on crime. However, another good reason to do away with the death penalty is our justice system. Witnesses make mistakes, and in many cases may be a little biased. Peace officers sometimes lie, as was exposed a while back when New York state troopers fabricated evidence that sent people to jail.

When I asked an officer of the court about the judicial system she said, "Well, it's not the best, but it's the best we have." That statement alone should be enough to do away with the death penalty. If not, how about this one: I discussed the pros and cons of the death penalty with a proponent of execution, his statement was "Anyone executed by mistake should be considered collateral damage."

Is this the American mindset today?
GEORGE P. KISKIEL---Rome (source: Letter to the Editor, The Utica Oberser-Dispatch)


Penalty's haunting toll
I testified before the commission that has recommended replacing NewJersey's death penalty with life without parole. While I would like to think my testimony was persuasive, what really made an impact on me was the testimony of other witnesses, including the rape victim who had to deal with the knowledge that her identification sent an innocent man to prison for 10 years; the brother who followed his conscience and turned in his brother, who was subsequently executed despite assurances to the contrary; and the men who spent years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence.

Beyond being a waste of money, an ineffective deterrent, and implemented illegally, the death penalty exacts a huge toll in human suffering.
Wanda Foglia

(The writer is coordinator of the M.A. in criminal justice program at Rowan University. Source: Letters to the Editor, Philadelphia Inquirer)

(Blogger's note on the following letter: NCADP is a single-issue organization, with that single issue being, of course, the death penalty. However, many of our members have strong feelings on the issue of abortion, as the following letter indicates.)

Ex-death-penalty supporter affirms life's value
Re Porus P. Cooper's Jan. 8 column against the death penalty, "Full circle on executions":

When I was younger, I instinctively was for the death penalty. I believed it could be a deterrent. I subscribed to the eye-for-an-eye philosophy. If someone harmed someone I loved, I would want him or her to pay.

But when I really thought about it, I changed my mind. Why? Because being antiabortion makes me "pro-life." How could I support what amounts to state murder yet believe abortion is wrong? It didn't wash. I had to make a decision. In addition to being antiabortion (and anti-euthanasia), I became anti-death penalty.

Now, people on either side of the abortion and death-penalty debates can argue for or against my view: that an unborn child is less than human or not, that a murderer is not deserving of a break or is. My outlook feels right for me. It boils down to this: When we devalue any life, we devalue all life.

That said, I think our judicial system needs an overhaul. Stop the slap on the wrist for murderers, rapists and repeat offenders. Give life without parole to convicted murderers. Support victims and their families.
Patricia Quigley

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