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Sheriff's perspective on death penalty is off

March 26, 2013 at 6:02 p.m.
Updated March 25, 2013 at 10:26 p.m.


Editor, the Advocate:

I read with much interest the front-page article on the death penalty in the Advocate's March 25 edition. I have not had the opportunity to witness an execution, but I have a strong opinion nonetheless.

The issue on whether the death penalty should or should not be abolished usually hinges on the cost to the taxpayer, the deterrent to murder or the serving of justice. It is my opinion that those talking points pale in comparison to another situation that Sheriff O'Connor brought forth: the possibility of convicting and executing an innocent person. That is not only a possibility. It is a reality. Over the thousands of years that the death penalty has been employed, how many of the innocent have paid with their lives? Does a certain prophet from Galilee come to mind?

If we as Americans cherish human life, then the death penalty is an ugly scar on the face of America, for if just one innocent person has been put to death under this draconian law, then the law is immoral. And I found it disturbing that our sheriff would characterize the possibility of convicting an innocent person as merely an extremely unfortunate circumstance of a system that is not fail-proof.

T. Michael, what if this system failed one of your loved ones or a close friend?

In closing, there is a Steve Earle song from his 1990 "The Hard Way" album entitled "Billy Austin" that takes a stark look at the death penalty from the viewpoint of a guilty man. Check it out. It just might stimulate more thought on the issue.

Mike Laza, Victoria

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