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Arson Penalty Should Be a Strong Deterrent

July 10, 2002

Like most others, I have been dismayed and horrified by the fires that have ravaged the West, especially when it developed that the two most serious fires, in Colorado and Arizona, were allegedly started by arsonists. Fires, whether they are in cities or in forests, jeopardize the lives of both civilians and firefighters as well as untold numbers of animals.

They destroy buildings and national forests that cost us all thousands of dollars in rebuilding--or are essentially unreplaceable. The crime of arson is so serious that I would like to see the federal government make arson--no matter where it occurs, in a city or in the country--a crime that has a mandatory life sentence without parole. And let that time be served in a maximum security prison.

The fact that arson can be so easily done in the dead of night off a lonely stretch of highway and, in the mind of the perpetrator, is a crime that he or she might pretty well assume will go unsolved, is a very good reason to make the punishment so severe that it will act as a deterrent to anyone contemplating such an act.

Roger Barwise

Los Angeles

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