Keyes calls for end to delays in death penalty

October 02, 1992|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

To protect Maryland communities from the "ravages of crime," U.S. Senate candidate Alan L. Keyes yesterday called for an end to delays in use of the death penalty.

The Republican candidate also called for citizen patrols and a more careful examination of budget priorities.

Mr. Keyes said he believes the death penalty must be imposed swiftly and surely regardless of the race of the sentenced. Some studies have suggested that blacks are more likely to be sentenced to death than are whites who commit similar crimes.

The question, Mr. Keyes said, should be, "'Did you commit the crime? Did you do the deed?' If you did, you should suffer the consequences."

The black community, he said, will support use of the death penalty because its members, particularly black males, are the most common victims of street violence.

"An African-American male," he said, 'is more likely than anyone to be shot down in the street. I feel outraged every time I think about it," said Mr. Keyes, who is black.

"People should not think that because they're black, they're going to get off, quite the contrary. It's worse than anything when you prey on your own," he said.

Mr. Keyes took care to contrast his views with those he said are held by his opponent, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, the Democratic candidate. He said that Ms. Mikulski "coddles criminals" and is "soft on crime."

He said Ms. Mikulski supported application of racial quotas to criminals awaiting execution. Under such a plan, he charged, "all murderers from a particular ethnic group, regardless of the severity of their crimes, could be exempted from the death penalty until other groups received the proper number of executions."

John Steele, Senator Mikulski's press aide, said: "Senator Mikulski believes anyone who kills a police officer should equally face the possibility of the death penalty. Statistics show this is not the case and this legislation seeks to remedy that."

Mr. Keyes was referring in his statement to the Racial Justice Act, which was designed to eliminate racial discrimination in the application of the death penalty.

Studies show that race plays a role at several stages in the capital sentencing process: who is charged with a capital crime, who can plead to a lesser sentence and who is given the death penalty. There is nothing in the law, a Senate aide said, about quotas.

Joined by Don W. Helms of the Fraternal Order of Police, Mr. Keyes spoke on the lawn near the Flag House low-income housing project where a Baltimore police officer, James Young, was shot in the head recently.

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