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Letters: Pondering capital punishment

Johnson City Press • Mar 15, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Want to have your voice heard? Send a Letter to the Forum. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com.

Pondering capital punishment

Friday (March 7) Jim Wilson wrote a letter stating he wants to reinstate the death penalty and eliminate appeals. Here are few points to ponder.

Tennessee is one of 30 states with the death penalty. Appeals do find errors.

A major study of appeals found a two-thirds error rate in the original trial or sentencing hearing. Some errors are related to innocence and some are related to other problems, such as ineffective assistance of counsel.

Since 1976 there have been 164 exonerations. If Mr. Wilson had his way, 164 innocent persons would have been executed.

Many persons on death row suffered abuse as children and many suffer from mental illness. One murderer grew up in a house where his drunken father beat his mother right in front of the two children, including slamming the mother’s head against the refrigerator. Luckily, a defense attorney saved this man from the death penalty.

The death penalty is supposed to be reserved for “the worst of the worst” but judges and juries have trouble determining who are the worst killers who deserve the death penalty. A study in Connecticut found that one man on death row fit the bill, but that 35 murderers who did not get the death penalty committed worse murders than the other people on Connecticut’s death row.

The death penalty is inherently arbitrary. The Death Penalty Information Center compares getting a death sentence to being struck by lightning, unless you live in a county that is notorious for being one of the 2 percent of jurisdictions prone to mete out capital punishment.

Some major Christian denominations, like the U.S. Catholic Bishops and the Presbyterian Church, have denounced the death penalty as contrary to the teachings of Christ.

JOHN T. WHITEHEAD
Johnson City

Not-so-super majority

After reading the article about the former Tennessee GOP chairman, I noted that all he spoke about was about how the GOP ruled Tennessee, and how important it was that they continue this rule in the form of a supermajority.

I saw nothing about what the Republicans plan to do for the people. Where was their concern for the healthcare of our people? Why did they let Ballad Health obtain a monopoly in Northeast Tennessee? Why did they give the rich a $300 million dollar tax break which went back to the municipalities who will in turn have to raise property taxes to make up for it? And don't forget the increase in the state gasoline tax, along with the $5 extra you're now paying for tags. The tiny break they gave citizens on groceries (not all things you buy at the supermarket are groceries), still gives the taxpayer a higher net tax bill.

What are they doing for us? Maybe it’s time for a change in our government.

J. E. HYDER
Elizabethton

Respect the office

Regarding the piece by Blair Bess (March 10), the opinion expressed by Mr. Bess is not only disrespectful to the President of the United States, but shows a total ignorance of world politics. He calls the president “gullible” and also calls him a “chump” because he did not contradict Kim Jong-un, Putin and the Saudi Crown Prince for their statements on certain political issues. I would like to see how Mr. Bess would hands the situations as faced by President Trump in North Korea, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

If he believes his criticism of our president, Mr. Bess would have employed the totally tactless policy of calling each of the leaders of these countries a liar to their face. Therefore we could expect more nuclear testing in North Korea with more rockets over Japan, leading to a possible shooting war. We would almost certainly be involved in another Cold War and arms race with Russia. War and unrest in the Middle East would escalate, and any help we may have expected in keeping Iran in-check would be lost.

It is obvious that Mr. Bess would rather see President Trump fail than to see the country succeed. Your bias and hatred of our duly elected president is showing, Mr. Bess.

W. VANCE GREER
Mountain City

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