Moratorium on executions isn't justified The Sun's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 21, 2002

Moratorium on executions isn't justified

The Sun's editorial on the governor's moratorium on capital punishment is most alarming ("Finally, a moratorium," May 10). It asserted that there are a disturbing number of death penalty cases in which defendants were represented by inexperienced lawyers and that in a number of cases the evidence against a capital defendant "doesn't overwhelm."

Apparently, The Sun has inside information that has not been revealed to the courts or the public defender's office.

As a member of then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Commission to Study the Death Penalty and also a family member of a murder victim, I am very familiar with the administration of capital punishment in Maryland.

The process involves various stages of appeal and review by courts including the Maryland Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court for Maryland, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

During this extended process, everything is carefully examined, especially the competence of the attorney and aggravating and mitigating factors in the case.

The Sun's editorial was irresponsible journalism, because it made serious allegations about the criminal justice system without providing evidence for them.

Maryland's stringent capital punishment laws have been studied and refined to afford defendants every possible protection and to ensure only the guilty are executed. There is no legitimate justification for this moratorium.

Anne Furst McCloskey

Baltimore

The writer chairs the Maryland Coalition Against Crime.

Death penalty offers revenge, not justice

Gregory Kane has it backward: Gov. Parris N. Glendening did not make Wesley Baker the "poster boy for racial injustice" ("Timing of death penalty halt reveals governor's true motive," May 15). The judge who sentenced him did that 10 years ago.

If that judge had wanted to punish Mr. Baker, rather than turn him into a cause celebre, he should have done the right thing - sentenced Mr. Baker to life in prison, where he could have quietly rotted away in well-deserved obscurity.

Instead, by sentencing him to death, the judge made Mr. Baker a victim, and denied any sense of closure to the family of Jane Tyson.

Crime victims do not need anything more than the assurance that the criminal will never be free again.

Watching someone else die for their crime does not bring the victim back to life or serve any sense of justice. It is revenge, pure and simple.

William Smith

Baltimore

New U.N. program won't help Iraq

The United Nations Security Council's decision to reinforce "smart sanctions" on Iraq will do little to improve the humanitarian situation in Iraq ("Sanctions altered to aid Iraqi civilians," May 15).

For example, under the new program, Iraq still cannot spend its oil revenues inside the country, meaning it cannot pay its civil servants and teachers a living wage.

How can Iraq's people hope to rebuild their devastated country when the sanctions continue to undermine the civil infrastructure in this way?

Ruth Gill

Baltimore

Unhappy reminder of a very dark day

I can't believe President Bush or his party would want to remind us that, on the darkest day in the nation's history, Mr. Bush was out of sight, aboard Air Force One, hopping across the country looking for a safe bunker ("White House defends use of Sept. 11 photo," May 15).

The picture shows Mr. Bush on the plane talking on the phone when he should have been talking to the American people.

It took him nearly 12 hours before he was able to come before the cameras and address a devastated America.

The GOP calls this "a defining moment in [Mr. Bush's] first year." Indeed it was.

Nancy Bowen

Towson

Brain injury horror is only too common

I greatly admire Mona Charen for graphically sharing with readers the events and emotions she experienced following her 11-year-old son's brain injury ("A mother's nightmare," Opinion * Commentary, May 13).

In a few short paragraphs she conveyed the emotional roller coaster those of us touched by a brain injury experience. And unfortunately her nightmare is all too common.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.5 million Americans a year suffer a traumatic brain injury, and that in 1999, 5,400 Marylanders incurred such an injury. In that year, 12 percent of all injuries to Maryland children ages 14 years old or under were related to traumatic brain injury.

Anastasia B. Edmonston

Baltimore

The writer is a resource specialist for the Maryland Traumatic Brain Injury Demonstration Project.

Give all evidence of abuse to police

It is time for the Catholic Church to turn over all knowledge it has on any priest accused of, or suspected of, child molestation to law enforcement authorities.

These priests need to be treated like any other criminal accused of such a crime ("Sex abuse scandal profoundly personal," May 15).

What's going to happen, when the next victim says, "It's messed up what these priests were getting away with?"

Melvin C. Cummings

Baltimore

Prayers go out to Stokes, family

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