Death PenaltyEditor: Peter Jay's Aug. 12 column was...


September 11, 1991

Death Penalty

Editor: Peter Jay's Aug. 12 column was disconcerting in its apparent support for death sentences and prisoner-killings, yet interesting in that it actually advocated scrapping this barbaric savagery.

For example, it asks why not follow the Europeans and abolish the death penalty, if offenders who kill policemen are not killed, and if courts like New Jersey's supreme court keep overturning death sentences?

To the question on what do you have to do to be executed (since Eric Tirado was not sentenced to death for killing State Trooper ++ Theodore Wolf), I found myself answering that there are no good reasons to kill to show that killing is wrong.

The discussion about the line drawn at different places by different people points out the arbitrariness of the penalty. My nine years' study of death-sentencing has shown me that who gets it is a throw of the judicial dice among the poor, mentally deficient and, most often, minorities.

The General Accounting Office issued a report in March 1990 that concluded there are "racial disparities in the charging, sentencing, and imposition of the death penalty." Even the Rehnquist court ruled that racial prejudice in death-sentencing was "an inevitable part of the criminal-justice process."

The comment that not using the penalty when it is on the books "encourages contempt for the process of criminal justice" is sophomoric. Anyone who has studied this penalty in depth can only have a great contempt for our judicial system because of its unfairness and injustice. As already noted these sentences are ruled by racism, prejudice against the poor and weak and arbitrariness. Added to these is the penalty's appeal to hate, revenge and malevolence.

We are all capable of agreeing that someone may deserve to be killed by appeals to these emotions. However, in our civilized and religious-moral society, reason, wisdom, understanding, awareness and mercy are expected to judge offenders and prescribe punishments. When our dark side prevails, as in the death penalty, we end up acting like the offender, only worse, for the malice and terror are more premeditated.

With each prisoner-killing, don't we all become a little less civilized, less human? The renowned concentration camp survivor Elie Weisel said: "Death must be opposed, not served. There is no reason in the world for people to impose death on others. When we do, we do something to ourselves."

I am grateful to the jurors in the Tirado case for they taught us about goodness, the value of human life, and that working to end pain and suffering is more important than working for violence and death. I wish more people would do the same.

William P. Menza.

Vienna, Va.

No Value Seen

Editor or: I have a complaint that I would like to verbalize to my cohorts in the field of nursing (registered and licensed practical). I received my annual renewal paperwork for continued licensure from the Maryland Board of Nursing and was amazed to see that our fee for renewal is a whopping 100 percent above last year.

This amount is exorbitant in and of itself, but to further reflect, we as a nursing community receive absolutely nothing for this fee except for the "privilege" of practicing nursing in a highly demanding, consistently understaffed and chronically stressful field of nursing. And that only in this state. I would like to know why this fee is increasingly climbing on a yearly basis and what do we as nurses in the state of Maryland receive in return for this exorbitant amount.

Kathryn Bauer.


SATs, Homework

Editor: In response to your Aug. 31 editorial, "SAT Decline," I want to say that the problem with American education does not lie with the schools.

Yes, schools can and must always improve. But after being a teacher for 17 years, I can assure you that no students will ever master any required material until they are required to spend the necessary time -- for a high school student it is three hours to four hours a night -- learning what was presented in school during the day.

The real problem with American education is in the American home. Parents must insure that students do their homework if Scholastic Achievement Test scores are to improve.

Joan I. Senyk.


America Needs More Parties

Editor: As supporters of the cause, I and my wife joined the marchers on Solidarity Day, August 31, to raise our voices in opposition to tyranny here in America. Democracy is winning more in the old communist countries than here in our land-of-the-free.

I came home that evening tired but glad I was able to join in the march with my fellow unionists and other progressives to demand that our government begin to govern as a true democracy and not as a greedy and inhumane corporation.

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