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Death Penalty Controversy

March 24, 1992

In response to "2 Inmates May Be Innocent and Freed After 17 Years," March 9:

Clarence Chance and Benny Powell were convicted of murder in 1985. They received all the protections available in the criminal justice system. They spent 17 years in prison. The Los Angeles County district attorney has now concluded that the trial was unfair, and that Chance and Powell may not have committed the murder, and is supporting their release from prison.

It is incidents like this which graphically illustrate the inherent injustice of the death penalty. If Chance and Powell had been put to death in 1985, the district attorney's later recognition of the invalidity of their convictions would have been of no use to them and of little solace to their families. In fact, if Chance and Powell were dead, it is doubtful that anyone would have had the motivation to further investigate their convictions.

Amnesty International, the internationally respected human-rights organization, reports that it is probable that several innocent people have already been killed in our present rush to impose death as quickly as possible. The United States stands virtually alone in the civilized world in supporting this barbaric and unfair penalty. The death penalty must be abolished.

JOHN HAMILTON SCOTT, Van Nuys

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