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The death penalty makes real punishment a sure thing

To the editor: Kevin M. Barry quotes Democratic Connecticut state Sen. Edith Prague's call in 2011 for a medieval-style public penectomy for home-invasion killer Joshua Komisarjevsky, and then grieves that "this is the festival of cruelty that the death penalty incites." ("State by state, the death penalty is losing ground," Op-Ed, Aug. 19)

No, it is the overturning of a death penalty that bends over backward to be humane that incites festivals of reaction.

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Barry asks, "Do we approve [of lynching], or have we evolved?" Clearly, capital punishment in Connecticut has evolved — from state-sanctioned hanging in 1639 to the electric chair in 1937 to lethal injection in 2005. But the state has demonstrated no evolution away from cruel and unusual crimes. Maybe that's why Prague, then 85, still believed in vengeance.

Others may not believe in such vengeance, but until life in prison is not conditional on "evolving standards of decency," only death can prevent parole.

Bruce Swanson, Glendale

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