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Death Penalty

September 13, 1993

I was with a hundred people in Los Angeles who vigiled along with hundreds in San Quentin in opposition to the killing of David Mason (Aug. 24). For all people who believe all life is sacred, it was a sad night. It was a night of shame for Gov. Pete Wilson, who could have allowed the legal process to continue or commuted the sentence to life in prison. No one was asking for his release, but we would end the cycle of violence by not killing in our name.

We can argue this killing because of costs, because of its lack of deterrence, its witness to youth that adult society kills so when someone disagrees with you, you kill, that child abuse is OK in a family and will not be considered seriously when someone acts out that anger, etc.

After hearing of the cheers by those supporting his killing, and after hearing a witness simply say it was difficult to see him for 14 minutes grasp for air and have his head move all about, how sick a society are we?

FATHER CHRIS PONNET

Claremont

If a man like David Mason has the right to stop his execution by filing an appeal, which he might conceivably have won and thereby lived a full life, but if instead he chooses death, is he not in effect committing suicide? And is the government by executing him not assisting that suicide? Perhaps California and Dr. Jack Kevorkian really do have something in common.

GREGORY BERNSTEIN

Granada Hills

Mason's lagging execution offers more proof for the need of a promptly administered death penalty. Not for punishment. Nor deterrent. But to save the lives of future potential victims.

In this case, legal maneuvers cost the life of a prison inmate. Further delays could allow an open war on elderly ladies should a state housed-for-life killer escape.

LARRY RHINE

Los Angeles

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