Maryland will be better off without the death penalty ("Senate may debate death penalty repeal," Feb. 26).
Repeal would allow Maryland to develop policies that are more effective at preventing crime and helping victims' families.
The flaws in capital punishment, which were reflected in the hearings of the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, have been well researched and well known for decades:
* It does not deter crime.
* It costs much more than the alternatives.
* It drags out the suffering of victims' families rather than bringing them closure.
* It risks taking innocent lives - mistakes in death penalty cases cannot be reversed once an execution has taken place.
In addition, the use of the death penalty reflects the racial disparity of our criminal justice system, which incarcerates and also condemns to death people of color at a much higher rate than whites.
I call on Maryland legislators to vote for repeal of the death penalty in 2009.
Elizabeth DuVerlie, Baltimore
I heard about Gov. Martin O'Malley's march through the streets of Annapolis in support of repeal of the death penalty.
This leads me to ask a question of the governor: On what day do you plan to march through the streets in support of the victims whose lives were taken by the people on death row?
Shame on you, Mr. O'Malley.
Craig Barnes, Annapolis
I wish that I could be as sure as Dan Rodricks is that the sentence of life without parole is as meaningful and harsh as the death penalty ("How can state leaders still cling to death penalty?" Commentary, Feb. 22).
Some crimes are so heinous that their perpetrator does not deserve to live. And, unfortunately, the individuals who commit such crimes will, if released, often repeat the same kinds of criminal actions, putting the public at risk.
The writer may suggest this is impossible with a sentence of life without parole.
But many of these sentences are never brought to conclusion, with every conceivable form of litigation and appeal used to overturn or shorten the sentence, even when the family of the victim is no longer able to protest.
Nelson Marans, Silver Spring
Gov. Martin O'Malley and Dan Rodricks are 100 percent against the death penalty.
They talk about cost of keeping people on death row of $68,000 per year. But the appeals process should only take two or three years, not 20 years or more. That would cut the cost of the death penalty.
They talk about the race issue. But I say that if you do the crime, you should pay with your life, no matter who you are.
I would like to see what the governor would do if one of his family members had been murdered. I wonder if he would turn the other cheek.
Charles Schreiner, Baltimore
We don't need to justify ending the death penalty with arguments that involve cost and deterrence, closure, etc.
Putting anyone to death once that person is under your control is wrong (for the state or for you and me).
Life imprisonment is justifiable and never lowers our society to the level of the murderer.
James Karantonis, Columbia
I oppose Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to abolish the death penalty.
No person executed by the state has ever committed another murder.
The people in favor of this proposal should seek the opinion of family members of murder victims.
William D. Townsend, Timonium
The recent debate over abolition of the death penalty is not new. This kind of debate has been going on ever since (and likely before) our system of laws evolved from English common law.
Having worked as an educator in both the juvenile and adult correctional systems for more than 25 years, I speak from a position of some authority when I say that I have met many "lifers" in several different institutions. And many of these men, women, boys and girls have told me that had they had known incarceration would be so oppressive and dehumanizing, they would have preferred the death penalty.
This is one of the many reasons I have held long that it is a far more severe punishment to imprison a person for the rest of his or her life than to end that life.
That consideration should satisfy many of those who currently oppose abolition of the death penalty.
While the idea of revenge is repugnant to me on its face, at least those who want it could be comforted that they have gotten their wish with a sentence of life without parole.
David Manning, Towson