Death penalty is arbitrary and unjust-Arizona

Death penalty is arbitrary and unjust

At the risk of boring columnist John MacDonald with "irrelevant" arguments
against the death penalty, his words, if not his thoughts, describe exactly why the death penalty should never be imposed (" 'BTK Killer' should face cruel death," Opinions, Sunday).

Not only does the "freak" Dennis Rader escape the death penalty but so does the Green River killer who stalked and terrorized the Northwest for so many years, leaving 48 victims in his wake.

Rader escapes because Kansas, at the time, did not impose the death penalty; Gary Ridgeway escapes because Washington authorities chose, in the exercise of their discretion, not to seek the death penalty. Yet right here, the Maricopa County attorney is seeking the death penalty for a young man who is alleged to be responsible for the deaths of others in a drunken-driving accident.

No matter your views on the death penalty, no one can reasonably assert that the application of the death penalty is anything but arbitrary.

Indeed, the Arizona Capital Case Commission statistics reveal that the location of the murder (i.e., county) and the race of the victim are stark indicators of who receives the ultimate punishment.

Yet MacDonald writes that Arizona's death row is filled with the "worst of the worst." Does someone who drives drunk and kills qualify as the "worst of the worst" when considered against those who receive life imprisonment for serial murders or the murder of youngsters?

Anyone who understands how the death penalty is actually imposed cannot justify the arbitrariness of its application.

(source: Marty Lieberman, Phoenix - The writer is the founder and
president of the Arizona Death Penalty Forum; Arizona Republic)