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How to ensure life without parole: Keep the death penalty on the books

How to ensure life without parole: Keep the death penalty on the books
An aerial view of San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, where California's death row is located. (Associated Press)

To the editor: I share columnist Steve Lopez’s opinion that “life in prison without the chance of parole seems in some ways a harsher sentence than the early escape that death brings.” I am sure that many in the anti-death penalty camp feel the same way.

This is precisely why I feel we need to keep the death penalty in place as the ultimate punishment: If it goes away, the very same people who oppose it may turn their sights on life-without-parole as being unacceptable in our society.

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It is true that death sentences are not fairly administered, and capital punishment is flawed. Fix that by keeping the death penalty in place and never executing another person; perhaps they’ll be exonerated some day, or they will die in prison, as they should, without the state’s intervention.

Kevin Kelley, Valencia

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To the editor: I understand that there are people who feel the death penalty would satisfy their longing for justice for the murder of their loved ones. However, in California the death penalty has for all practical purposes been eliminated for decades.

Thirteen people have been executed in California since 1992. Not even Sirhan Sirhan, Charles Manson or the Hillside Strangler have been executed.

Even if Gov. Gavin Newsom reversed course tomorrow and left the death penalty in place, Dr. Xavier Caro, whose three children were killed by their mother in 1999, would probably never see the execution of his former wife. So what would be gained?

Erica Hahn, Monrovia

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