Death Penalty: Victim's Family RepliesAfter reading the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Death Penalty: Victim's Family Replies

After reading the "Death Penalty" letter, Nov. 4, I've come to the conclusion that swift execution is the answer to convicted killers and a cold warning to would-be killers.

The only way I can see the life-without-parole sentence as an alternative to death is that it be written into the national and state constitutions. In this way it would be very difficult to repeal, as so many of our laws are.

The death penalty as it has been handed down in the last 30 years certainly is not a deterrent. But just let it be carried out from this day forward in Maryland, and I guarantee it will be a deterrent and at the same time an act of public safety. The convicted murderers would never stand a chance of getting out to kill again.

As far as the Baltimore County's state's attorney's office having a disproportionate number on death row, let Baltimore City's state's attorney's office take a lesson. The carnage in our lovely city could easily match the worst war-torn cities around the world.

Baltimore City jurors cannot bring themselves to deliver a death sentence for two reasons. One, the city state's attorney will not seek a death sentence for the killers who are having open season on citizens. Two, the citizens seem always to find a "good" or explainable reason for the murder. Call it runaway mitigating circumstances.

It is the sworn duty of the governor to carry out the capital punishment sentence as handed down by the courts. Until this is done, we will continue to fill our jails with uncaring misfits who will jump at the chance to get out and commit more murders. The national statistics are now stating that one murder takes place every 22 minutes.

John Thanos and Steven Oken (who brutally murdered my daughter) are both three-time losers. They each killed three innocent, defenseless people. The sooner we terminate them, the less chance of them slipping through the cracks in the judicial system.

As far as vengeance goes, I was a witness at Steven H. Oken's sentencing trial, when a member of his family yelled out and wished the same fate on the prosecuting attorney's newborn child.

Let's eliminate the appeals in death penalty cases, use the rope and save taxpayers money.

Frederick J. Romano

Bel Air

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After reading the letter "Death Penalty," I noticed Davida Oken failed to mention she was the mother of Steven Oken, convicted three times of murder in 1987, currently on death row.

As to the public realization of how savage and primitive the death penalty is, what about how inhuman the savage actions murdered victims were subjected to before and during the felony?

The only thing surviving families are left with are memories and bits and pieces of their belongings left behind. Each day experiencing the emptiness without that loved one. As to restitution, the only restitution that would satisfy the victims' families would be the return of their loved one. There is no alternate restitution.

Mr. Thanos said he would do it all again. Would you like to be his next victim if he was given the opportunity?

Society is tired of paying for unlawful nonconformists. Nationwide surveys have shown citizens overwhelmingly want the death penalty. Appeals which can last up to 12 or 14 years can cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Most convicted death penalty felons cost $3 million to $4 million each.

If an individual can not conform to society and their laws, they should have to pay the consequences. Each prisoner is costing the taxpayers $25,000 a year plus a possible $5,000 in college benefits.

The only way to stop the killing is to enforce the death penalty. Stop all the appeals. Without a change within the system, everyone will either be a victim or a member of a victim's family. Every 22 minutes a murder takes place in the U.S.A. Don't ever think it couldn't happen to you.

Cheryl Romano

Baltimore

Illegal Politics

Kal's drawing (Nov. 7) uses Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot as "Two Good Leasons to Support NAFTA."

Ironically, The Sun's editorial right beside it gives one of the good reasons NOT to support the North American Free Trade Agreement: the illegal Mexican president, Carlos Salinas de Gotari.

Salinas was "elected" through fraud and violence. I didn't make that up. I learned it from reading articles about Mexican politics written by Sun staffers.

Am I to believe what I read in the paper? Do The Sun editors read their own paper? If so, do these editors believe what they read in their own paper?

If so, then I wonder about these editors giving legitimacy to Salinas by pushing negotiations with him on NAFTA. Salinas is only using NAFTA to perpetuate the PRI, his political party.

Here we have the appearance that The Sun is campaigning for a win by Salinas' anointed successor and the violence-riddled party, the PRI, in the next presidential election that will be held, as usual, at gunpoint.

Remember, I read about the PRI's disreputable history and methods in The Sun. Did you read it?

Harry E. Bennett Jr.

Baltimore

Sinn Fein

In response to your editorial, "Bombs of Belfast" (Oct. 28): Certainly, Sinn Fein belongs at the table in talks on the future of the North of Ireland.

Sinn Fein has had a formal proposal for peace in the six counties since 1986, including its present-day document, "Towards a Lasting Peacein Ireland."

To expect the party to issue a cease-fire directive to the Irish Republican Army given the current state of affairs is unreasonable, however.

The Hume-Adams proposal is the greatest legitimate chance for peace in the last quarter-century.

The Dublin government has already voiced its support. Gerry Adams has stated that the IRA can be delivered to the peace table when the British accept the general principles of the accord as well.

Sinn Fein wants a full demilitarization of the situation in the

North. As Loyalist paramilitary groups and the British Army are jointly responsible for twice the number of civilian deaths as the IRA since 1969, it is implausible to believe that peace will begin by the IRA laying down its arms.

The explosion that killed 10 on the Shankill Road in Belfast was unquestionably a tragedy. At least 13 Nationalists have been killed since that incident, including seven sprayed by Loyalist machine gun fire in Greysteel, County Derry. Obviously, any cease-fire must be unilateral.

The British government again appears to be adamantly against any possibility of a true peace in Ireland.

The government of Britain clamped an exclusion order on Mr. Adams, preventing his travel to England, Scotland or Wales (a fact that your readership would be hard-pressed to find within these pages). This assures that he cannot deliver his message of peace to Westminster.

No one wants peace more than the citizens of the North of Ireland. It is time for Britain to realize that they need to be part of the solution, not of the problem.

John P. McNichol

Glen Burnie

Capable Artists

I was saddened to read of the unfortunate dilemma of artist Ralph McGuire in the Nov. 3 Sun.

For years, I've been asking the Baltimore Museum of Art to sponsor a yearly Maryland Art Show that would include water color, charcoal, oil, pen and ink, wood, metal and stone sculpture. As yet, I never have received a favorable reply or seen anything happen in that regard.

We have a tremendous number of very capable artists living within our state. I've been to their shows and seen their work.

Why do people like Melvin Miller, Frank Redelius, Will Wilson and many others have to go to Washington and New York to sell their work in private galleries, where they have been well received?

When the BMA had a private show for Reuben Kramer a few years ago, the place was mobbed with visitors, and the show was extremely well received.

I am sure there are many others in Maryland who are better known in other areas of the country than they are in their native state of Maryland. There is no excuse for this.

The BMA should take the lead by having a Maryland State Show and inviting all the local artists to submit work and then at the conclusion pick winners in each category and display their work.

What a boost this would be for our local artists. After all, isn't the BMA financially supported by the surrounding counties as well as the state of Maryland?

At one time, I had entertained the thought of leaving my collection of work to the BMA -- but not now. Here's an opportunity for the BMA to "make right" a terrible wrong done to Mr. McGuire.

J. A. Klitenic

Randallstown

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