3:00 PM EST, January 14, 2013
In response to Major Robert Di Stefano's Jan. 9 letter ("Make death penalty quicker, cheaper and more effective"): As a 21-year resident of central Baltimore, let me first thank the major for his service and for helping to keep me and my family safe. On the deterrent value of the death penalty, or lack thereof, the National Research Council last year concluded that all studies of capital punishment contain fundamental flaws that make them "uninformative as a basis for policy consideration."
On the expense, we could of course cut costs by following the Chinese model that Major Di Stefano implicitly endorses: one trial, one appeal, limited defense counsel, and then charge the accused for the bullet. But surely we should aim higher than China when it comes to criminal justice? One hundred and forty-two people have been exonerated from U.S. death rows due to evidence of their innocence, and for almost all of them it took more than just one trial and one appeal.
I would rather save money by abolishing the death penalty and plowing those savings into law enforcement techniques that the major might recommend — community policing, victims assistance, better juvenile justice, etc. That seems like common sense to me.
Frank Jannuzi, Baltimore
The writer is deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA.