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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 16, 2009 at 2:32 PM

Washington state’s death penalty debate

Awareness is the key

What do most people say when asked how they would choose to die? Almost all say “in my sleep” (so I am not aware of it). Awareness is the key.

Opiates are sedating and depress the breathing. Why not:

1) Give a sedating drug (such as Lorazepam/Ativan) IV at a dose much, much higher than the levels used when inducing anesthesia before surgery;

2) Give IV heroin quickly in a dose higher than that expected to stop breathing;

Repeat 2) until breathing stops.

The heart will stop soon after the breathing stops.

Or, sedate, then use enough explosive to vaporize them in an instant. Or, sedate, then drop a 100-ton block of concrete on their head. They won’t be aware at all.

Now . . . did you cringe with disgust when reading the above?

My reaction was revulsion. My response is to advocate life in prison without the chance of parole. As Danny Westneat wrote [“Executions no longer make sense,” column, March 15]: the death penalty is too expensive and it puts the family members of the victim through repeated reminders of how their loved one died, which is cruel.

Think about it.

— Jeff Wedgwood, Issaquah

With all deliberate vengeance

Sunday’s Seattle Times’ editorial [“Death with deliberation,” March 15] failed miserably to make its case on why it’s appropriate Washington state continues to have a death penalty. It does, however, brilliantly point out exactly why it should be abolished. It points out the fact it is expensive, grueling on the family and appeals go on forever.

Yet it defends the deliberateness of the process. It wisely omits any false claims that the penalty deters crime, and at the same time cowardly omits the fact the only purpose served is vengeance.

Not one fact is presented to defend the death penalty. My favorite line is this bit of nonsense: “The justice system is not 100 percent perfect. Removing the death penalty would not change this.”

Keeping it won’t either, but if you don’t believe it harms us morally, you can bet it does fiscally.

— Nick Millward, Seattle

Inconsistency, hypocrisy

I agree with The Time’s position that decisions about life in prison versus capital punishment should not be a question about money, while I fail to make sense of the rest of the editorial.

Without even addressing the question of errors in any given process, how can a society, which in large part considers abortion “murder” and stands against “death with dignity” at the same time clamor for the death penalty?

If ever there were an oxymoron to this so-called question of “conscience,” this has to be it. Do reasonable people truly believe that sitting beyond a thick glass window and watching someone die brings “closure” to the original heart-wrenching pain of having lost a loved one? I sincerely doubt that to be the case, unless the viewer’s emotions have been warped into irreversible hatred; not exactly civilized nor Christian character attributes, I dare say.

We hear endless claims that this country’s laws were based on Christian principles, so how can we forget that biblical writings tell of God’s admonition about “an eye for an eye” while also warning “vengeance is mine.” Anyone care to explain why we consistently chose to ignore this very important lesson?

And lastly, let’s not forget the many twists and turns the legal system employs in the application of capital punishment. Case in point: The Green River killer.

— Ruth R. Quiban, Seattle

Execution delay is an insult

I would like the Washington State Supreme Court to know I am appalled at the decision to stay the execution of Cal Coburn Brown. This court did not represent me or the citizens of this state by second-guessing our process to execute.

To delay carrying out this sentence is an insult to everyone who has had to work so hard in our bureaucratic quagmire of a legal system in this state.

There is no effective justice in this state. That is cruel and unusual punishment on the citizens and our safety.

— Raleigh Andrews, Newcastle

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