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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

Category: Death penalty
January 27, 2015 at 4:08 PM

Death penalty: Systemic inadequacies in the criminal justice process

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

The Times’ editorial “No reasonable argument for keeping death penalty” [Opinion, Jan. 21] makes a brief and insufficient mention of the “ultimate mistake,” presumably a reference to the potential execution of an innocent person. The editorial then goes on to express, at length, the view that capital punishment is not justified because of the enormous expenses and delays involved and its uneven application.

However, if none of these factors existed, if there were no money, delays, or other costs or frustrations involved, the single fact that would forever outweigh any


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: American Bar Association, Amnesty International, capital punishment

September 15, 2014 at 7:04 AM

Death penalty: Cost of trials is too high

Two people who allegedly killing six family members in Carnation in 2007 are still awaiting trial [“Carnation death-penalty case hit by more delays,” Local News, Sept. 5]. Seven years, so far, of delay. Why? Because the state is asking for the death penalty and the defense lawyers, as they should, are fighting vigorously for their…


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: capital punishment, Carnation, death penalty

March 13, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Death penalty not a deterrent; brings justice to families

Death penalty not a deterrent I’ll not argue that the death penalty may have helped with the Green River killer case [“The death penalty is an important tool of law enforcement,” Opinion, March 10]. I will however dispute U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert’s opinion that it makes us safer. Texas continues to execute murderers by the hundreds. If…


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: death penalty, Green River killer, Jay Holman

February 25, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Death penalty: applied inconsistently; margin of error too high

(Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times)

(Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times)

Corrected version

Capital punishment applied inconsistently

On the one hand I can relate to Brian Moran’s position supporting the death penalty for Jonathan Gentry and others like him [“Should Washington state abolish the death penalty?” Opinion, Feb. 22]. Who doesn’t experience a desire for vengeance and retribution for such a heinous crime?

But I get stuck on some other realities of capital punishment, including those described by Eldon Vail and Dick Morgan, particularly the uneven way in which the death penalty is applied.

How is it that the most prolific killer in the state’s history — Gary Ridgway — escaped the death penalty? Was he the criminal-justice version of “too big to fail” — meaning that when you kill dozens of victims, rather than only one or two — there is more value in gaining information regarding all of the victims than in executing him for any one murder?

I applaud Gov. Jay Inslee for his courageous stand calling for a moratorium on executions, allowing for a renewed debate on this issue.

Janet Barbour Michaelsen, former superintendent Twin Rivers Corrections Center

Margin of error is too high

Dick Morgan and Eldon Vail’s guest column on the death penalty, though informative, left out a fundamental argument against the death penalty. The use of case reviews and the increasing implementation of DNA have shown that about 10 percent of inmates nationwide since 1976 have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence, according to the NAACP. While 1 percent is too much, 10 percent is unacceptable.


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: Alexander Scott, capital punishment, death penalty

February 20, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Death penalty: No evidence that executions do not deter murder

Gov. Jay Inslee recently set a moratorium on all executions as long as he remains governor [“It’s time for the state to end the death penalty,” Opinion, Feb. 18]. He said the law has been applied inconsistently and there is no evidence that the death penalty deters homicides. According to the Washington State Law…


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: crime, death penalty, Gov. Jay Inslee

February 19, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Death penalty: ending a barbaric practice; treat abortion similarly

The Walla Walla State Penitentiary. (The Seattle Times)

Last weekend, The Seattle Times editorial board reconsidered its position on capital punishment, spurred by Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement that week of a moratorium on the death penalty while he’s in office. The Times now holds the death penalty as fundamentally flawed, overly expensive and morally wrong, and it is time for it to end in Washington. The best letters on the topic are below:

Ending a barbaric practice

I would just like to voice my enthusiastic support of The Seattle Times’ editorial against the death penalty [“It’s time for the state to end the death penalty,” Opinion, Feb. 18].

America really needs to look over its shoulder and see whom we are teamed up with on this barbaric practice. Hint: None of Western Europe or any other civilized developed nations are with us on this one. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis are not with us. Churches, judges and medical personnel who have seen the death penalty in action are not with us.

We need to step up and find a decent solution to administer justice to the criminals whom we believe to be unsafe in the community. Killing is not a business in which the state should be engaged.

Thank you so much for having the insight and the courage to point this out to your readers. You are earning our respect.

Shelley Gibson, Seattle

Treat abortion similarly

Thank you for demanding the end of the death penalty. Now draw up the courage to do the same with abortion. Abortion, like the death penalty, uses violence to solve a complicated social problem. A baby is a human being and not simply fetal tissue. And unlike many prisoners on death row, the baby in the womb is absolutely innocent.


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: abortion, death penalty, Peter D. Beaulieu

February 15, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Death penalty: Costs don’t represent legitimate appeals

I am a Democrat on most issues, with the notable exception of the death penalty [“Restart the conversation on the death penalty,” Opinion, Feb. 11]. If there is total certainty that a person has intentionally committed murder without a compelling reason, such as self-defense, the murderer should be humanely executed. What reasonable explanation is…


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: capital punishment, death penalty, Gov. Jay Inslee

February 15, 2014 at 6:15 AM

Death penalty: Inslee’s decision doesn’t represent will of the people

To say Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to impose a death penalty moratorium is shortsighted is an understatement [“Restart the conversation on the death penalty,” Opinion, Feb. 11]. The governor’s job is to represent the will of the people, and he has simply assumed that the majority of those in Washington state are against the death…


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: capital punishment, death penalty, Ron Hopper

February 14, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Death penalty: killing innocent people; Wash. is better than capital punishment

How many innocent people are we willing to kill? The one question that we, as citizens, have to answer with regard to the death penalty is this: How many innocent people are we willing to kill to preserve the capital punishment system? One a year? One a century? [“Restart the conversation on the death…


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: capital punishment, David Roy, death penalty

May 17, 2013 at 7:57 AM

Inmate sentenced to death after murdering guard

Does the death penalty attract inmates? Lisa Hamm, center, sister of slain Monroe corrections officer Jayme Biendl, reacts after a Snohomish County jury decided to recommend the death penalty for Biendl’s killer, Byron Scherf. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times) I was in the Monroe prison when Byron Scherf murdered Jayme Biendl. I was released six months…


Comments | More in Death penalty | Topics: death penalty, murder

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