Commentary

Letters to the Editor

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Few issues divide the public as stringently as does capital punishment. Many argue that it is "ineffective as a deterrent to criminal activity" and that it's "administered inequitably along lines of race." These concerns hardly merit the discourse they often receive. For example, a deterrent is a personal psychological condition where one weighs the risk of a choice against the impact to one's values, then opts to perform in a manner that minimizes punishment. It is not an inherent aspect of an event or thing universally capable of discouraging undesirable behavior. What this boils down to is that nothing is truly a deterrent unless you deem it so based on what you value. As far as the death penalty being inequitable race-wise, it's more inequitable economic-wise.

In order to unify society on this issue, capital punishment must be redefined. Let's consider capital punishment a form of extradition instead of execution. By doing this, we remove the immoral factor that serves to divide and relegate the act of executing a murderer to a status more palatable to our social mores.

Extradition is defined as the act of surrendering an alleged criminal to another power having jurisdiction to try the charge. Since so many people in this society believe we are transients of this physical realm and our true and original domicile is in the ethereal, then capital punishment should be considered an act of returning the soul to its original jurisdiction where the appropriate powers can expedite the charge.

Therefore, now that we have dispatched McVeigh's soul back to Hell (brimstone pit number 35H), from where it escaped so adroitly, we can be assured our actions are in compliance with the universal laws of creation (an eye for an eye), man's laws regarding jurisprudence (atonement), and also the postal process (return to sender).

Marcus H. Bland
via the Internet

A run-on sentence: The death penalty. Nothing new, been around for the ages and will be argued about for the rest of the ages. Would executing any of the older convicts on death row -- Rodriguez, White, Dunlap, Harlan -- mean anything now? Doubtful, because they are most likely very different men than when they committed their crimes.

The death-penalty debate would be far better if the court had the courage of its conviction, no pun intended. If death meant death -- and right after the trial, not in seventeen years, like the Rodriguez sentence. Gary Davis met his maker; Rodriguez, Harlan, Dunlap and White should now meet theirs. Where is the dignity in keeping a man in a cage while the lawyers go on lawyering and the whole mess gets sadder for everyone involved, especially for the families of the victims? Sadder still, these people are the forgotten ones in all of this.

The death penalty is nothing more than revenge: Some people in Colorado deserve theirs. Thank you for the story.

Keith Andrew
via the Internet

The lunar bin: In response to Steve Jackson's finely written historical and factual presentation regarding the death penalty in Colorado, and as a consequence of the capital murder of Tim McVeigh Monday morning, I can only say that all "aggravators" and/or "mitigators" do not change the heinous, barbaric and uncivilized response of the government in taking an additional life. Violence obviously begets violence, and this is very sad, yet not indelible.

When man landed on the moon thirty-some years ago, I remember thinking to myself what a wonderful venue for our socially "unfit." It was and remains remote, stark, difficult to get access to and from, and, once colonized by those with the bare essentials, would be a potential breeding ground for a new generation of more "fit" citizens for this world. If we had thought this way several decades ago or now rethink what appears to be an absurd approach, a more civilized, intelligent, possibly fiscally sound and more conscionable approach to dealing with murderers could be achieved.

J. Matthew Dietz
Denver

Death-defying: I read Steve Jackson's "Murderers' Row" and found it very balanced and very informative. I testified at a number of the trials of people he wrote about, and I visited some of them at the former death row and at the current CSP death row. I was jail/prison chaplain for fourteen years, so I met them early in their long road to life or death. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

P.S.: Ray Powers and I were not exactly drinking buddies.

Jim Sunderland
Denver


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