Raleigh News and Observer



Regarding Charles L. Davenport’s Nov. 24 Op-ed article “Moratorium zeal tortures the truth”: Few people dispute Davenport’s statement that “the state has a constitutional and moral obligation to protect its citizens.” However, many people dispute the right of the state to protect its citizens through using the death penalty.

Davenport asserted that the death penalty is not state-sanctioned murder because “killing is not, in all cases, the moral equivalent of murder.” Father Franz X. Linsenmann in 1878 wrote that “It is imperative to recognize that the death penalty can be justified only if it is absolutely necessary from the perspective of self-defense.” Frederick Douglass in 1858 stated, “When a criminal is firmly secured in the iron grasp of the government, and on that account can no longer endanger the peace and safety of society; … the execution of the death penalty on such an one is an act of cold blooded enormity.” In 1937, Jacques Leclercq wrote: “… the death penalty has ceased to be legitimate, since states have sufficient means without it for protecting the social order.”

Since other options exist, including a life sentence without parole, how can we justify sentencing people to death? Davenport wrote that “a sentence of ‘life imprisonment’ averages a mere eight years.” So what? The North Carolina General Statutes in n14-17 clearly state: “any person who commits (first-degree) murder shall be punished with death or imprisonment in the State’s prison for life without parole.” n15A-1370.1. clearly explains: “A prisoner serving a sentence of life imprisonment without parole shall not be eligible for parole at any time.” Thus, a moratorium and even abolition of the death penalty will still enable the state to adequately protect its citizens.

Joette Steger