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Decisions on Death Penalty

June 29, 2002

Re "Death Sentences Ruled Up to Juries," June 25: One of the tenets of our civilized society is that we each give up our individual right to personally punish a person who has victimized us. Instead we collectively agree on appropriate penalties for specific crimes. We then extensively train certain people to enforce the laws.

The police, for instance, are charged with the responsibility of protecting us. They are licensed to carry guns and to kill, if need be. They are psychologically indoctrinated with the ability to kill if the job requires it. The same is true for judges. They are trained to impose the predetermined penalties for crimes committed. We as a society have already decided that certain crimes carry the penalty of death.

Why delegate the responsibility of signing the death warrant to the weakest, least trained members of the justice system? It is not fair to the jurors and not fair to us. We, the public, have already signed that death warrant. The criminal signed his own death warrant by committing a crime that should end in death. It is ridiculous that the Supreme Court has given 12 randomly selected people the ability to override a consensus of all the voters in this country. It is unfair to every law-abiding citizen of this nation and seriously undermines the ability of the justice system to carry out its mission.

Lisa Malkiewicz

Beverly Hills

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Re " ... Fairer Death Sentences," editorial, June 24: The bleeding-heart liberals at The Times applaud the surprising decision of a usually sensible Supreme Court to bar the execution of mentally retarded killers.

Are we to assume these individuals are less dangerous to the public or to other prisoners than a person of higher intelligence? This will, of course, lead to an overload of murderers pleading retardation. Anyone with an IQ you can roll on a pair of dice should know that.

Arthur Hansl

Santa Monica

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The Supreme Court is moving in the right direction by limiting the death penalty. The next step is to abolish it altogether. We must break our alliance in the death penalty with what President Bush has called the "axis of evil" and others of similar repressive governments. Since we failed to lead in abolishing the death penalty, we should now have the good sense and propriety to follow the enlightened nations that long ago abandoned this human atrocity that has demeaned us as a people.

Charles E. Miller

Camarillo

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