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Speaking Up for the Death Penalty

January 20, 1985

Your editorial of Jan. 2 "Rolling the Dice for Death" is another case of irresponsible journalism, contrary to the will and needs of public safety. You state that a Georgia appeals court rejected by a 6-6 vote a legal challenge to a criminal's going to the electric chair. I'm certain the victim of this killer did not have anyone vote on his rights to life.

You further state that "society aroused by violent crime, undoubtedly favors the death penalty as a deterrent."

Unfortunately for the majority, demanding safer streets, editorials foisted on the "majority" deny the appeal of the masses. Such thinking by the news media, insulated liberals (those untouched yet potential victims) and our liberal politicians creates the propensity for violence.

First, a hard-core criminal will "dispose" of his victim because the death penalty is no harsher than the penalty for armed robbery, so why not get rid of the witness and lessen his chances of being caught. Violence is also created in the potential victims in their cry for self-protection. (A case in point is Bernhard Hugo Goetz, who shot his four assailants: He was not a vigilante but merely someone screaming for help from society and trying to defend himself.) You claim that the death penalty is not a deterrent. The majority of our population contradicts you.

The deterrent factor is the elimination of recidivism (70% of the criminals released will repeat the same crime). In other words he will not do the same crime again once he is eliminated. One out of 10 of our citizens will be victims of violent crime in 1985. To continually espouse leniency for criminals as you and our former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. have done will only make matters worse.

Hopefully, the 22 million potential victims in California will be able in 1986 to vote out the Supreme Court that was appointed by our former governor. It is my firm belief that if you or someone near and dear becomes a victim, of if you could see a victim/survivor at the scene, you might change your opinion with regard to criminal termination. ARTHUR TUBER SHARLENE POKRES DOROTHY HERNANDEZ LINDA JACOBS Woodland Hills I agree with one part of your editorial "Rolling the Dice for Death," Jan. 2, 1985. You stated that the death penalty is not a deterrent. I agree. The way the death penalty stands now in California, it is not a deterrent. The California Supreme Court has overturned 27 out of 30 death penalty convictions.

Studies I have read shows that the true deterrent to criminal activity is the certainty of the penalty. In California that is surely lacking.

As a police officer I frequently come into contact with the "criminal element" in our society. I have been laughed at by a suspect who broke into three cars. He said nothing was going to happen to him. He was subsequently placed on probation although he had an extensive criminal record.

A heroin addict told me he came to California from Texas because "they are serious about crime in Texas." In essence he came to California to pursue a life of crime because the penalties here are laxer. I have many more stories like this.

In California we cannot tell juries that life with no chance of parole means 18 years and life in prison means seven years. Our jurors may not know it, but our criminals sure do. The death penalty may not be a deterrent now but if enforced it surely could be. JOEL FAY Pasadena Your editorial states in part: "Society, aroused by violent crime, undoubtedly favors the death penalty as a deterrent."

Certainly this is true if you make it "final deterrent." It is also true, however, that most of society also favors the death penalty as an appropriate punishment for certain categories of inexcusable murders.

Society has no obligation to keep such persons alive. Their victims cry out for enforcement of the capital punishment law. Legal technicalities and sophist arguments, designed to prevent enforcement, thwart justice. LEE G. PAUL Los Angeles I disagree strongly with your editorial of Jan. 2 "Rolling the Dice for Death." The writer of the article seems to favor imprisonment as the alternative to the death penalty. He bases his judgment on the tradition of "our deepest values" and on our reliance on imprisonment in the past.

But isn't it time we break with the traditions of the past and strike out on a new untried path. The deterrent value of prisons has never been proven. Indeed, crime has gotten worse while we have been paying more and more for prisons. Let's broaden the use of the death penalty and get rid of all prisoners with multiple felony convictions. RICHARD CARLBLOM Alhambra

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