If the death penalty is for the "worst of the worst," the state of Ohio has failed. The May 6, 2005 Associated Press exclusive, "Race, Geography Can Decide Death Penalty Cases," a 20-year study, shows the public how unfairly and arbitrarily the death sentence is applied. Your article shows a personal connection to this research.
I hope that your article will make more people think about the death penalty. I believe that the death penalty only perpetuates violence in our society. As Bill Pelke wrote in his book, Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing, "Most people want the death penalty simply because of the desire for revenge. Revenge is never ever the answer. The answer is love and compassion for all of humanity."
Thank you for your compassion to humanity by writing this story.
-- Daphne Miller, North Bend
Death Penalty Is Nonsense
Margo Pierce has written a well-researched and superbly written piece on the death penalty in Ohio ("Making a Killing," issue of July 12), giving a remarkably balanced picture of just what's going on in our state's criminal justice system. And she's done it without the emotion that usually attaches to both sides of the issue.
If all Ohioans -- indeed all Americans -- will admit that capital punishment is an outmoded, counter-productive form of punishment and should be abolished completely, we will have achieved a more just society. Killing someone because they've committed a capital offense achieves nothing except to satisfy a vague need for vengeance.
We know from the statistics quoted by Pierce that capital punishment is in no way a deterrent to crime.
There are other, far more humane ways to protect society from those who've killed people. Yet America remains one of the few nations that mindlessly equates support for capital punishment with being "tough on crime."
We don't need capital punishment, nor can we continue to afford it, yet Hamilton County consistently ranks right up there at the top of all of Ohio's 88 counties in the number of people sent to Death Row. The legal expenses borne by our local taxpayers should make all of us cry out to "stop this nonsense." Our prisons are quite adequate to protect us from convicted killers.
-- Charles H. Finney, Anderson Twp.
Understand Truth of Death Penalty
Kudos to Margo Pierce for her excellent analysis of Ohio's death penalty ("Making a Killing," issue of July 12). Hamilton County has a reputation as a "hanging" jurisdiction, and the Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly criticized overzealous local prosecutors.
All humans are fallible, including those seeking to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Conservatives who denounce inept government must recognize inevitable flaws in criminal justice administration. Those administering cocktails of lethal drugs during executions have been found to err, just as those convinced of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt have repeatedly sent the wrong man to Death Row while the actual killer remained at large.
Lethal injections have been designed to minimize convulsions for the benefit of a murder victim's family witnessing the execution rather than to minimize pain experienced by the condemned. Most jurisdictions do not allow the lethal drug cocktail used in criminal executions for putting a pet to sleep.
Suicide is a crime under Ohio law, but last week the state assisted suicide by executing a volunteer who had attempted to take his own life after killing his wife.
All other countries we view as members of Western civilization have abolished the death penalty, as have a dozen states in the U.S.; the murder rate is higher in jurisdictions that continue to use capital punishment. Pierce has helped us understand truths that should set us free of an archaic punishment.
-- Howard Tolley Jr., Clifton
Makes Me Sick
Just wanted to let you know that Larry Gross' column "All Dogs Go to Heaven" (issue of July 12) really got to me. Thanks to him for writing it.
I'm a huge lover of animals as well, and I can't believe how heartless a person must be to leave an animal on the highway. Nor can I believe a person can hit one and not even stop to see if it is alive or dead! Makes me sick to my stomach, too.
-- Deborah Stevens, Downtown
Love and Respect Animals
I read and enjoy Larry Gross' Living Out Loud column all the time but never take the time to respond to it. This week I must.
The column "All Dogs Go to Heaven" (issue of July 12) was very hard to read because it was very raw and put us right there with him. I thank him for picking that puppy up off the road and thank him for telling us about it.
I have been an animal lover all my life and can never understand such cruelty. I hope when people read this article and see the meanness of what that person did to that little dog, they'll look at themselves and start to treat our animal friends the way they should be treated -- with love and respect, not with hate and disregard for life.
-- Victor Wolfe, Roselawn