The case against capital punishmentI take great exception...

the Forum

August 07, 1991

The case against capital punishment

I take great exception to Stewart W. Deal's Aug. 2 letter, which equates capital punishment with justice. Capital punishment, even for those who kill police officers, has never been just and fails to serve the interests of society.

Mr. Deal mentions the "overwhelming cost to the taxpayer" of constructing new prisons and jails. Yet a Florida study revealed the cost of execution is, on the average, 11 times that of life imprisonment without parole. When the costs of successive appeals are figured in, the average Marylander would pay much more had Eric Tirado been sentenced to death.

Of course there is a certain amount of justifiable anger over the murder of a police officer. But when one considers the punishment imposed -- life imprisonment without any hope of parole, ever -- then Tirado really hasn't been given much of a break. He will never be a free man as long as he lives. I hardly consider that a "liberal" sentence.

Our desire for vengeance must be tempered with a desire to do what is right. The ACLU has issued a report listing over 100 victims who were falsely executed in the 20th century. That means the government has murdered over 100 people, just so the bloodthirsty appetites of gentlemen like Mr. Deal could be satiated.

But perhaps our greatest obligation to oppose capital punishment is a moral one. It is ironic that Mr. Deal mentions the will of God in capital punishment, for although the Hebrews imposed death, the teachings of Jesus point in the opposite direction. "Love the sinner, hate the sin."

"Turn the other cheek."

The Christian philosophy which I have come to understand would not refuse to grant forgiveness to a sinner who has come to beg for his life.

P. Andrew Torrez


Opinion imbalance

I am not naive to the political philosophies of Baltimore's answer to Pravda, but it would serve The Evening Sun better to have a semblance of balance on its editorial pages. A case in point is your July 29th edition.

A quick scan reveals [editorial] opposition to victim impact statements that "result in placing a higher value on some lives than others." Where's that rationale when you support affirmative action?

Then there's the Linda Cotton piece admonishing the Bush administration's suppression of the teen-age sex survey. Is there really anything new in sexual behavior that a multi-million dollar survey is going to reveal?

Then there is Anthony Lewis' tirade criticizing the Reagan administration for the shortfall of revenues to local governments in the 1990s. More self-reliance by local jurisdictions was mandated in the 1980s, and if plans weren't made to meet this situation in the 1990s then local governments should share mightily in the debacle.

On the next page is Edward J. Hudak's trashing of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. The fact that Mr. Thomas' intellectual and academic credentials are far superior to the folk hero he's replacing is never mentioned -- only his perceived attitudes and failures.

Finally we have Mike Lane, who I suspect got his start with graffiti on rest room walls, doing another number on the president.

Only the people seem to embrace the GOP administrations and its conservative leanings. It is well that your subscriptions are not directly related to the quality of your objectivity and balance.

Joseph L. Bishop


Judicial activists

The battle over the confirmation of Clarence Thomas is one that stems from the abuses of the Supreme Court for the past four decades.

The court moved away from fundamental principles to create its own, according to the whimsical impulses of the justices. This is an evil known as judicial activism.

Justices, under the Constitution, should not make law but rather apply the law as it is written in the Constitution. As long as a justice remains true to constitutional law, it matters not whether he is conservative, liberal or radical.

If the justices of the Warren Court had realized this we would not have this problem today. Controversial "precedents" would never exist. The Senate can't comprehend this. Instead, it wishes to impose a "litmus test" for the nominee using key liberal "passwords."

As the new conservative court overturns past "precedents," putting things back to normal, Congress will have to realize that it now has to do the dirty work by initiating law itself as instructed in the Constitution, according to majority opinion.

Benjamin M. Scholes



Because of an editing error, Mario Torres' position on the 1991 civil rights bill was misstated in one sentence of his letter in the Forum of July 30. The sentence should have read: "The 1991 [civil rights] legislation . . . upholds affirmative action with goals and timetables necessary to overcoming continuing discrimination in hiring and promotion of African American, Latino and women workers."

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