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. Debating Law, Order and the Death Penalty

November 12, 2002

Eric Slater's "A Matter of Life and Death" (Nov. 8) should be required reading for every civil servant in America. His description of Illinois Republican Gov. George Ryan's painful soul-searching about the efficacy and fairness of the death penalty took me back more than 40 years to my own awakening in this regard.

In one of our staff bull sessions, a conservative colleague at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business stopped all discussion of the matter by saying that he would be delighted to see 100 innocent persons put to death rather than have a single guilty one go free. My only question then and now is whether he would like to have one of his own kids be such a martyr to law and order. He may not have meant his remark to have had such an effect, but it certainly made permanent doubters out of me and everyone else within earshot.

Frank LaRoche

Los Angeles


How can anyone be foolish enough to believe that it is "tough on crime" to execute an innocent person? Prosecutors and victims should remember that whenever an innocent person is executed, the guilty person remains free and undetected. The death penalty should be administered only when the defendant is guilty beyond all doubt, not just beyond a reasonable doubt.

Elaine Lindelef


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