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Death Penalty and Race

November 06, 1986

In response to your editorial (Oct. 17), "Death and Race," I would like to suggest that the idea that the death penalty should be nullified because of racial discrimination in its application is a ridiculous attempt by opponents of capital punishment to eliminate the death penalty by striking up an anti-discriminatory banner.

If killers of blacks are less likely to receive the death penalty than killers of whites, then the issue that should be addressed is the fact that criminals committing heinous murders against blacks are not getting the punishment they deserve.

It takes an atrocious crime to receive the death penalty in the United States, and the murderers who have already received death sentences have done more than enough to deserve them. Of course, those who kill blacks should not be rewarded with lighter sentences for their choice of black victims, but neither should those who kill whites benefit from misdirected efforts to eliminate racial discrimination.

What we need are more air-tight death penalty laws that would precisely define the conditions under which death sentences could be passed and would specifically require that the death penalty be applied when those conditions were met. This would remove the death penalty decision from the hands of potentially prejudiced juries and judges, thereby protecting against racial discrimination without at the same time making the United States a more hospitable place for demented criminals who commit heinous crimes.

Meanwhile, if opponents of capital punishment wish to try to put an end to the death penalty, perhaps they could take a more honest approach and argue against the death penalty itself, rather than attempting to hide their argument behind a righteous campaign of racial equality.

ED CLAYTON

Loma Linda

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