Should Maryland execute prisoners?

SATURDAY MAILBOX

January 27, 2001

The death penalty doesn't stop violence

Gov. Parris N. Glendening should abolish the death penalty. Flawed as we all are, no person has the right to kill another person. And we cannot kill a person to teach that killing is wrong.

I still agonize because I killed a mouse when I was a child. I cannot imagine how any executioner, from the governor on down to the guard who straps in the prisoner before lethal injection, is unaffected.

If Mr. Glendening wants to be "tough on crime," he should end poverty. The resounding commonality on death rows is the prisoners usually come from poor backgrounds that include abuse.

The justice system will always make mistakes, so we must join the civilized world and abandon capital punishment.

Those who seek vengeance should realize it never brings back the victim, grants closure to the victim's family or reduces crime.

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore

Capital punishment is an anachronism. State-sanctioned murder is inappropriate in the 21st century.

Capital punishment stems from the old adage of "an eye for an eye." It is time to evolve beyond that primitive way of settling a scores.

It's time to step up in social evolution and end capital punishment.

Jeannette Ollodart Marx, Towson

With 13 men on death row and a high percentage of them convicted for killing a white person, Maryland appears to place a higher value on the lives of white people than of people of color. To execute an individual under such a racist system would be shockingly unfair.

The governor should place a moratorium on the death penalty until a study of racial bias in capital sentencing is completed by the University of Maryland.

The governor authorized such a study last year and we cannot have a complete picture of how the death penalty is applied until it's completed.

Some argue that killing the killer is what he or she deserves. I would say that, if we truly value human life, no one deserves to die.

If we act in a spirit of love toward fellow humans, we see the killer as someone who needs help. While we must protect ourselves from the killer until he or she learns the value of life, we must also work to help that person appreciate life.

There are those who will never learn that lesson and their confinement must be long. But there are others who, in time, can be taught how to live and work in society.

We turn our backs on people when we execute them; we truly understand the value of human life if we work to heal them.

Sherrye Walker, Lutherville

Killing is always wrong. Therefore, the death penalty is wrong.

Let us, as a civilized society, not stoop to becoming murderers ourselves.

Lorig Charkoudian, Baltimore

I oppose capital punishment because it is arbitrary, capricious and cannot be made fair.

Capital punishment also teaches our children that violence is avenged by more violence.

The commandment reads: "Thou shalt not kill."

It doesn't read: "Thou shalt not kill, except convicted criminals."

Gerald Ben Shargel, Reisterstown

We cannot be a civilized society with the death penalty.

It defies all logic to teach that killing is wrong by sanctifying state killing.

In countries around the world, the death penalty is used against those considered marginal in each society. In the United States, this leads to the execution of racial minorities, the poor, the mentally retarded and emotionally unstable.

The use of capital punishment makes a mockery of the phrase "equal justice under the law."

Cathy D. Knepper, Kensington

The writer is state death penalty abolition coordinator for Amnesty International USA.

As a Quaker, I believe "there is that of God in every human being." No one can be on firm moral and ethical footing when he or she chooses to extinguish that light.

Our children see and hear what we do and how we represent ourselves.

No one can make a credible case for respect for human life if the government itself cannot be an example.

Robert Goren, Baltimore

What message would Gov. Parris N. Glendening be sending if he chose to allow executions?

That life ceases to be sacred when we deem it useful to take it away. That we feel powerful enough to kill but powerless to recognize every human being's intrinsic dignity? That we give up, because we know of no other way to deal with evil deeds?

Is it too challenging for us to seek alternative responses to crime?

The need to punish should not turn into the urge to destroy.

Let's not quit on these inmates; let's not quit on ourselves.

Marc Jacquand, Washington

I am opposed to the death penalty and do not think Gov. Parris N. Glendening should honor it.

There is but one who has the right to take a life -- the one who put us on this earth.

D.M. Carani, Ellicott City

If a member of my family were tortured and murdered, I would want the murderer executed. But this does not mean that the death penalty is right or just.

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