Letter to the Editor


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To the editor:

I feel I must respond to the Rev. Wissman's recent letters concerning the application of the death penalty and the American Bar Association's pronouncement in that regard.

Our criminal justice system has a very difficult task ensuring that those captured and convicted of crimes receive punishment which is humane enough to protect the dignity of the criminal and severe enough to protect the lives and property of the citizenry at large. It would do the criminal justice system great disservice if we remove from it one or more of the tools necessary to do its job properly. The death penalty is a tool of justice, a tool vital in the sentencing process.

It is a sad fact that innocent people die unjustly inside and outside our prison walls. In establishing a judicial system, our Founding Fathers were charged with the task of creating a system which offered the greatest amount of security for the population at large while protecting the rights of those accused of a crime. Once convicted, however, the rights of the convicted are meant to give way to the protection of society. While it troubles me that an innocent person may go to jail or even to his death because of an inequity of the judicial process, I am more troubled by the thought that my family, my friends or even innocent persons I do not know may be sent to their death by a criminal who, having previously been convicted of heinous criminal acts, was not properly incarcerated or terminated.

The death penalty does not make our justice system or our society unfair, unjust or immoral. If our justice system is unfair, unjust or immoral, it is because we have been unfair, unjust or immoral in our selection of those who are charged with making it work. Everyone who has sat idly by and let persons of low moral fiber gain or retain office bears some share of responsibility for the state of our justice system and the unfairness, injustice or immorality contained therein. Everyone who has actively worked and voted for persons of a low moral fiber bears an even greater share of that responsibility.

If Wissman and every priest, rabbi and preacher in every pulpit in America would work to ensure that their congregations fulfill their moral and civic duty, then the death penalty would not be an issue. We could rest at night knowing that our jury trials and the sentences resulting therefrom were fair and moral.

He who is the final judge will have pity and compassion on the soul of the innocent who will surely find eternal life even though we wrongly terminate his mortal body. Pray instead for those of us who, escaping punishment in this world, will pay a heavy price for failing to ensure that earthly justice if moral, fair and equitable. The blood of every innocent who dies because of our failure to do our part in ensuring that morality is a key part of the justice system will be on our hands and our souls. The ABA may feel that our application is imperfect and unjust, but they and we should sleep uneasily in the knowledge that the final justice will be perfect, with no mistrials or technicalities to protect us.


Tamms, Ill.