Restricting death penalty dims deterrent The editorial...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 28, 2002

Restricting death penalty dims deterrent

The editorial "A lesson in Illinois that's good for Maryland" (April 21) is a disgusting example of The Sun's head-in-the-sand, unrelenting position on capital punishment in the face of an alarming increase in homicides in the Baltimore area.

A few days before the editorial, The Sun ran an item reporting Baltimore's 76th and 77th murders of the year, compared with 69 homicides on the same date a year earlier ("Two men fatally shot on Mondawmin Avenue," April 19).

Despite the initiatives and leadership displayed by Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris, who for a time was able to bring down the rate of homicides, there has been a decided upsurge.

I know of no greater deterrent to taking a human life than the knowledge by the perpetrator that he or she is likely to pay for the crime by forfeiting his or her own life.

If the do-gooders in Maryland and a few other states have their way, they would ban or limit imposition of the death penalty.

But banning or limiting the death penalty ties the hands of prosecutors who seek justice in murder cases.

As for the possible racial disparities in Maryland's system of justice, I can only say this: The prisoners on death row were not placed there capriciously; they earned the right to be there.

Albert E. Denny

Pikesville

I take exception to the part of the recent editorial on the death penalty that agreed with an Illinois commission that suggested it be "reserved for the worst of all killers - those whose killing alone suggests no other punishment could conceivably be appropriate."

Who gave this commission the right to determine one killing is more offensive or severe than another?

Apparently its members feel that if someone is killed during a robbery the killer shouldn't get the death penalty.

Tell that to the mother and father of a teen-ager working in a fast-food chain who is killed during a robbery. Tell that to the parents of a child who is killed because he has a particular jacket someone else wants. Tell that to the husband of a woman robbed, raped and killed on her way home from work.

This commission diminishes some deaths, and that is a crime.

Barbara Blumberg

Baltimore

Life sentence sends right signal

Judge J. Norris Byrnes was absolutely right to sentence Anthony J. Miller to a life term ("Man gets life term in Towson rape case," April 23). Given the defendant's previous record, and the fact he had been on parole as well as receiving sexual addiction treatment [at the time of the crime], the judge made the right decision.

Maybe this will send a signal to other repeat offenders who simply mock our sometimes-too-lenient legal processes.

Let's hope that the judge who hears the case's appeal exercises the same good judgment, and keeps this man off the streets for the rest of this life.

Jeanne Kloss

Whitehall

Reviving boot camps would be bad move

Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich is out of his mind if he believes that resurrecting boot camps may help resolve issues within the juvenile justice system ("Ehrlich says he would resurrect boot camps," April 23).

Resurrecting boot camps would only prove to be a liability for Maryland taxpayers, who already face paying millions of dollars for the injuries, damages and legal fees for abused juvenile residents of correctional and rehabilitative institutions.

Mr. Ehrlich sure seems 20 years behind the research and even further out of touch with society and the communities most affected.

Jonathan R. Burrs

Baltimore

Better teachers make math add up

Yes, math does count ("Does math count?" editorial, April 23). So does the most important factor in the "equation," the consistent preparation and appropriate delivery of quality instruction within a well-managed classroom.

Without quality control measures that ensure excellence in teaching, promoting testing and standards for students will continue to net the same results - unprepared students. Similarly, our failure to adequately prepare and pay teachers will leave us with massive teacher shortages.

Let us not put the onus of "having a respectable level of knowledge" solely on the shoulders of the students. The solution to improving student preparation rests in demanding more from colleges, universities, teachers, parents and last, but certainly not least, the students.

Deborah Tolson

Columbia

It's no myth: Gore should have won

In "7 Myths about George W. Bush" (April 21), Paul West discounts as a myth the idea that Mr. Bush is an accidental president and attempts to replace it with the "truth" that post-election studies generally show Mr. Bush would have won the vote even if it had been fair and complete.

Unfortunately, that "truth" is the myth and the "myth" is the truth.

The studies do show that, under most recount methods, Mr. Bush would have come out on top by a few hundred votes. But none of these studies bothers with another major factor in the Florida race - the fact that many, many legitimate voters attempted to vote but were unable to get ballots.

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