In response to "Let's See If Barbarism Truly Deters," by Richard Moran, and "The Victim Will Not Get Equal Time," by Harriet Salarno (Commentary, May 1):
Moran's article proceeds upon the false premise that the deterrence factor is the rationale employed to justify the death penalty. In California there is no single moral foundation upon which the death penalty rests. In fact, the Penal Code, and the case law interpreting it, prohibits any penalty phase argument and consideration of the deterrence factor.
A jury must consider a series of factors in the death equation that, in part, include the nature of the crime for which the defendant was convicted, the defendant's past criminal history, mitigating mental factors at the time of the crime, and almost anything relevant to the issue of what kind of person the defendant was and is.
Moran states that if the death penalty does not deter then "proponents would be forced to rely on the morally questionable motives of retribution and revenge."