Governor's review of death sentences is far from...


February 11, 2002

Governor's review of death sentences is far from tyrannical

I read with astonishment Hal Riedl's claim that "Any prosecutor who seeks the death penalty must conduct a perfect trial" ("Clemency subverts courtroom," Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 29).

The author failed to mention that Kirk Bloodsworth, his innocence later confirmed by DNA testing, was convicted of homicide in a "perfect trial." And there are thousands of examples of a deeply flawed justice system. For instance, Michael Austin, finally freed after 27 years, was convicted despite the lack of any credible evidence he committed murder.

The failures in the justice system, including racism and classism, can never be totally eliminated. In death penalty cases, mistakes are particularly tragic.

I hope one day to see Maryland listed with the District of Columbia and other states that have abolished capital punishment. Most of the developed world recognizes the death penalty as barbaric, savage and exceedingly cruel and unusual.

Mr. Riedl claims that if the governor spares any of the four prisoners on death row scheduled for execution this year, "It will be an act of tyranny."

Tyranny, as I understand it, is the misuse of power over others. What greater misuse of government power is there than to execute a human being?

Max Obuszewski


Our most basic law, the Maryland Declaration of Rights, mandates the separation of the executive from the judiciary, and prohibits our governor from doing what Hal Riedl wants him to do -- rubberstamp judicial acts.

To emphasize this separation, the Maryland Constitution very specifically gives our governor the power to set aside or modify judicial decisions. And the General Assembly has enacted the statutory framework for commutations, pardons and reprieves.

These laws exist so that justice may be tempered with mercy. They also acknowledge an ultimate due process -- to prevent mistake in the taking of a life.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening would violate our laws if he failed to make an independent determination as to the moral propriety of each pending execution.

It is not "tyranny" when our governor follows the law and makes a decision with which Mr. Riedl disagrees. Mr. Riedl cheapens the word, and our system of law, when he makes such an accusation.

Patrick J. Clancy


Supporting Bush's war won't stop terrorism

Polls show that 80 percent of Americans approve of the president's handling of his so-called "war on terrorism." Even the Democrats in Congress have applauded his efforts and intentions.

What fools. It doesn't take much of a statesman to round up a posse and go after the bad guys. The president's politically driven, might-is-right diplomacy will only reinforce the pre-Sept. 11 opinion the world held of the United States -- as a blundering, greedy bully -- and ensure that new terrorists continue to arise.

America deserves better than that.

Doug Mattingly


AHC deserves some credit for Royal Oaks renovation

We were pleased to see The Sun's coverage of the purchase and renovation of the Royal Oaks Apartments ("Community turnaround," Jan. 24), a project that will replace a blighted slum with safe, decent, affordable housing for low-income residents of the Park Heights community.

We were disappointed, however, that AHC Inc. was not mentioned as the non-profit affordable housing corporation responsible for this much-needed project.

The efforts of AHC, in a $17 million joint venture with our for-profit partner, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, will enable 188 families to live in quality affordable housing.

This project fulfills our 25-year mission to protect and preserve the shrinking supply of quality, affordable housing in the mid-Atlantic region.

Walter D. Webdale

Arlington, Va.

The writer is president of AHC Inc.

City needs more to fight the battle against blight

Kudos to William Baker for the efforts he and his neighbors have made to protect their community from the neglect of absentee owners. This is a prime example of what homeowners are capable of doing.

What Baltimore needs is a thousand William Bakers -- to help Mayor Martin O'Malley save not only Howard Park but all the two dozen neighborhoods referred to in Eric Siegel's article "Holding the line against blight" (Jan. 29).

Bob Rigger

Long Green

Appreciation of athletes provides great pleasure

Thanks to Holly Selby for her glowing tribute to the athletes whose well-shaped bodies have supplied inspiring images of beauty through the centuries ("The bodies of gods and goddesses," Feb. 3).

What a pleasure to read an article in praise of athletes, without a trace of the condescending, ironic tone so many commentators on sport seem to regard as mandatory.

Thomas A. Bowden


Don't attack the governor over the age of his bride

The two letters critical of the governor's wedding photograph were mean-spirited and unworthy of publication in The Sun ("Governor's wedding photo is another embarrassment," Feb. 5).

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