Changing standard for death sentences would delay...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 27, 2002

Changing standard for death sentences would delay justice

The Sun's profession of dismay over the defeat of legislation to change the sentencing standard in death penalty cases requires a reply ("Death and fairness fail to meet in Senate," editorial, March 16).

The editorialist writes that the "two bills quashed by a Senate committee last week weren't about supporting or decrying capital punishment. They were about ensuring that the ultimate punishment is meted out by the highest standards - a concern that ought to be shared by advocates and opponents alike."

Maryland's current death penalty law has been in effect for 23 years. Why has The Sun waited until 2002 to question the fairness of the sentencing standard? Could it be because there are four vicious killers on death row who have exhausted their appeals and can now be saved only by the governor's powers of clemency?

But if the legislature could be persuaded to change the statute, the lawyers for these men - and every other man on death row - would have a new issue with which to challenge their sentences and demand new sentencing trials. Indeed, The Sun editorialized on March 13 ("Doubt and death") that the new standard ought to be applied retroactively.

If new sentencing hearings were granted, they would set off new rounds of appeals to state and federal courts, further delaying any possibility of legal execution in Maryland for years to come.

State Sen. Walter M. Baker's committee killed these bills because they were a transparent effort to delay justice. There are legitimate and conscientious arguments against capital punishment, but Maryland's sentencing standard is not one of them.

But like too many others who want to abolish the death penalty, The Sun believes whatever serves to postpone an execution, however disingenuous, is justified.

Hal Riedl

Baltimore

Israel's oppressive policies prompt the region's violence

Aron Raskas makes an equivalence between our war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Israel's war against a civilian population in the occupied West Bank and Gaza ("Israel too has right to fight terrorism," Opinion

Commentary, March 19). Anyone familiar with the Middle East conflict knows no such equivalency exists.

The Israeli government is responsible for much of the violence committed against it. This is a government that has besieged another people, confiscated their land and water resources, forced them to live in scores of disconnected Bantustans surrounded by more than 100 military checkpoints and killed more than 1,000 of them in the last 18 months alone.

The system Israel has installed in the West Bank and Gaza resembles South Africa under apartheid. And just as in South Africa, the solution to Israel's problem is to end the illegal and immoral subjugation of the people it oppresses.

Albert Muaddi

Silver Spring

Comparing Israel to the Nazis shows scant respect for Jews

G. Jefferson Price III's article "Israel, Palestinians at the abyss" (March 17) sinks The Sun to a new low of incivility and insensitivity to Jews. Mr. Price's analogy of the actions of Israel to those of the Nazis is an egregious anti-Semitic canard.

While I respect Mr. Price's opinion, there was no reason to make this exaggerated and inflammatory linkage to make his point.

Mr. Price should understand that the word "Nazi" is the "N" word to Jews. Moreover, it is exactly these kinds of overstatements and distortions that have been invidiously directed against Jews by anti-Semites throughout history.

Mark Davis

Owings Mills

Let Israelis and Palestinians work out their own dispute

When will we learn not to bite off more than we can chew? Why do we care if Israel occupies Palestinian areas? We are fighting a war ourselves.

We are spending billions of dollars to defend our freedom and protect our own people. What business is it of ours if these people want to kill each other? I think we need to worry about ourselves for a change, and let other countries take responsibility for their actions this time.

We can't save other countries if we can't even protect ourselves from people who live in caves.

Tina Reynolds

Baltimore

Taxing one addiction to treat another?

The writer of the letter "Thwart cigarette tax by kicking the habit" (March 16) offers his "ingenious insight" into how to prevent the state from collecting more revenue by increasing taxes on cigarettes. He says simply: Quit smoking.

I would respond with my own ingenious insight: So the state can spend the $9 million budgeted for the treatment of drug addicts in other ways, I say simply: Stop using drugs.

To continue to raise taxes on a product purchased by people addicted to cigarettes (a legal substance) while providing millions for treatment of people addicted to illegal drugs is mind-boggling to me.

Marvin Howell

Baltimore

Appalled by the trashing citizens give Charm City

As a newcomer to the Baltimore area, I have been charmed by the city's neighborhoods but appalled by the amount of trash throughout the city.

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