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Death Penalty Controversy

January 28, 1990

While The Times is to be commended for being a virtual lone media voice against the death penalty, I think the point needs to be made even stronger that opposition to the death penalty should be more than just an "issue of morality." It's also an issue of practicality. The plain fact is that the death penalty does not work. Executing Harris or anyone else for that matter by the state will not make it work any better.

To prove it, let's examine the cause and effect relationship between crime and the death penalty in the states that execute. In 1984, for instance, when Florida put to death eight persons, it had the macabre distinction of being the nation's leading state executioner. But the same year the state's homicide rate actually jumped 5.1%. According to figures gleaned from the Census and the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, the 14 states without capital punishment have consistently had lower incidence rates for murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Further, there is not a shred of evidence to show that the death penalty has deterred heinous crimes from being committed in the five leading execution states--Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Georgia.

While the death penalty may give the public a false sense of security, it will not prevent murder or stop crime. It comes off as nothing more than a vengeful measure that the public has latched onto out of desperation.

As The Times pointed out the more cost effective, and humane remedy is life without possibility of parole, not the archaic measure of capital punishment.

EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON

Inglewood

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