I read with interest Gabrielle Banks' Oct. 20 article "Death Penalty No Deterrent, Police Chiefs Say."
Of course it's no deterrent -- it's rarely used. Death row inmates can sometimes languish for 20 years or more awaiting their fate -- I cite the Michael Travaglia and John Lesko cases as prime examples. Actually, getting the death sentence in Pennsylvania is practically akin to a life sentence without parole. They are more likely to die of natural causes than from lethal injection.
I believe journalist H.L. Mencken said it best:
"The real objection to capital punishment doesn't lie against the actual extermination of the condemned but against our brutal American habit of putting it off for so long. After all, every one of us must die soon or late, and a murderer, it must be assumed, is one who makes that sad fact the cornerstone of his metaphysic. But it is one thing to die, and quite another thing to lie for long months and even years under the shadow of death. No sane man would choose such a finish. All of us, despite the Prayer Book, long for a swift and unexpected end. Unhappily, a murderer, under the irrational American system, is tortured for what, to him, must seem a whole series of eternities. For months on end he sits in prison while his lawyers carry on their idiotic buffoonery with writs, injunctions, mandamuses, and appeals. In order to get his money (or that of his friends) they have to feed him with hope. Now and then, by the imbecility of a judge or some trick of juridic science, they actually justify it. But let us say that, his money all gone, they finally throw up their hands. Their client is now ready for the rope or the chair. But he must still wait for months before it fetches him."
I rest my case.