Death penalty must be used more oftenWhen will the...

the Forum

October 01, 1992

Death penalty must be used more often

When will the senseless killing of innocent, law-abiding citizens end? When will the senseless killing of our law enforcement officers end?

I don't see an end to it. Not as long as the rights of the criminals mean more than the rights and safety of the rest of us.

I agree with Governor Schaefer and Mayor Schmoke that the death penalty needs to be enforced. Shorten death-penalty appeals. How many appeals did Officer Weiner get? How many appeals did the two Baltimore County teens murdered by John Thanos get?

It terrifies me that a family member or friend can become one of a growing number of victims. It terrifies me to wonder what kind of world my young grandson will encounter as he grows up. None of us should have to live in fear. Yet that's what it has come down to.

It angers me that our judicial system has let the majority of us down. Short-sighted people will say the death penalty does not deter crime. Of course it doesn't; Maryland's last execution was in 1961.

The Associated Press reported that 25 executions have taken place in 1992 and that there are 2,600 men and women on death rows throughout the nation.

Some executions are scheduled for later this year, but how many will actually be carried out? You and I have a better chance of being murdered than a prisoner on death row has of being executed. That seems wrong to me.

Start enforcing the death penalty so that the criminal elements in this country know that if they take a life they will be assured that within, say, two years after their conviction they will be executed for the crime.

If a child is told he will be punished for some misdeed and then punishment is not carried out, the child reasons that, since nothing happened the first time, why not repeat the misdeed. The same mentality is at work with repeat offenders.

We should not be fearful of losing our lives or the lives of someone dear to us to those who make a mockery of our judicial system. Give us back our streets and neighborhoods. Give us back our lives.

JoAnn Parrish

Glen Burnie

Capital crime

I firmly believe in capital punishment. People who commit bizarre and frightening crimes are no good to themselves or society. They are beyond rehabilitation and should not be allowed to occupy overcrowded jails at mountainous cost to taxpayers.

Capital punishment would not only eliminate some of the overcrowding in jails, but also the criminals who are plaguing our streets and homes.

The situation is so bad that hardened criminals are being released to make room for others, with the result they continue their grotesque and brutal activities upon more innocent victims.

None of this makes sense. Deadly violence has become a cancer eating at society. Murder and violence happen with frightening regularity.

Some of the worst criminals sit on death row for years while appealing their sentences -- again at enormous cost to the taxpayers.

Parole is not the answer. The justice system as it stands today is rotten to the core.

The police are doing their best. Yet in 1991 the U.S. had roughly 25,000 murders. The homicide rate is the highest in the Western world. An American is shot, stabbed, beaten or strangled to death every 22 minutes. Today no one is immune.

The National Rifle Association and its lobbyists are obstructing the passage of the Brady Bill, which calls for gun control. Some say it is wrong to take the law into your own hands and shoot a vicious trespasser who intends to murder, rape and rob. I do not agree with this theory.

I wonder what kind of world am I living in. Law and order no longer exist. Morality is just a word in a dictionary. You can buy your way out of anything -- from the top to the bottom. It is amazing what a slick, well-paid attorney can achieve. Money talks every time.

Sheila Waters

Baltimore

Elegy for a slain police officer

Working in my office recently, my thoughts were constantly interrupted by the sound of helicopters circling overhead.

This is not an unusual occurrence in Baltimore City. That day, however, the sounds were prompted by a funeral at Sol Levinson & Brothers funeral home. The helicopters contained fellow officers of Ira Weiner, who had been shot and killed in the line of duty the previous Saturday.

Throughout the day, I witnessed various explanations, concerns and analyses about the chain of events that led to this funeral and to another city officer who lay wounded in a hospital bed.

An older neighbor said, "How can we feel safe when this can happen?" A radio announcer said, "This is a tragedy, but what about Rodney King?"

A radio talk show caller said, "Why is the mayor calling for the death penalty for murderers of police officers but not the children of the city, who were also victims of murders?"

A local business person said, "This is indeed a sad day in Baltimore, when two officers can be shot successively with their own weapons."

I even heard a twenty-something young lady sneer, "I wonder if Ice-T's 'Cop Killer' had anything to do with this?"

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