Letters to the Editor for Nov. 28, 2011

By Baker City Herald Readers November 28, 2011 10:05 pm

Kitzhaber made the right decision
To the editor:
On Nov. 22, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced that he has suspended execution of prisoners on death row as long as he is governor. I believe he’s made the right decision. Following is the email I sent Governor Kitzhaber: Dear Governor Kitzhaber,
I completely support your suspension of executing death penalty convicts. Having spent 15 years working in the criminal justice system in Baker County, I am convinced that it’s a popular myth that the death penalty is a deterrent to murder.
All of us who’ve worked in the system know that the cost to the state in administering the death penalty cases is much higher than for convicts spending life in prison. Finally, morally it makes no sense that the state commit murder in response to murder. Thank you for your political courage.
Here are the statistics supporting my assertion that it’s a myth that the death penalty is a deterrent to murder. In every year for the past 20 years, the nationwide murder rate in death penalty states has been significantly higher than in non-death penalty states. Additional cost in death penalty cases comes mostly in trials and appeals, which can cost eight times more than in non-death penalty cases.
Gary Dielman
Baker City

School policy puts children at risk
To the editor:
This is in response to the Oct. 19 article in the Baker City Herald regarding the school board’s discussion concerning the advisability of barring school employees with Right to Carry licenses from having guns on school property and Superintendent Walt Wegener’s letter of Oct. 24 attempting to put the matter to rest.
There appeared to be two separate safety motivations driving this discussion. The smaller group, with which I strongly agree, are concerned for the safety of the children and teachers. The larger group, including legal advice, seem to be concerned mainly regarding their personal liability.
History has shown many times, in schools and other places, that it is the unarmed who become the victims of those who disregard the law. It appears obvious that the students and teachers would be safer if we had a policy encouraging teachers and employees who have concealed carry permits to be armed. This should be made known publicly so that the criminal-minded would be aware that they too would be at serious risk if planning a gun crime on school properties.
Superintendent Wegener wants safe schools, not admitting that those without protection are at risk. His application of the Chaos Theory doesn’t quite fit this situation.
First, the real danger comes from outside the “system,” from criminals importing guns. And second, were it applicable to all people, our police departments and military would be bathed in blood.
Any public area where lawful guns are prohibited is an open invitation to those who disregard rules and laws and have lethal harm to persons in mind. History, some very recent, clearly shows that unarmed potential victims have no protection at all.
Mr. Batchelor’s statement at the recent school board meeting that “It is the elephant in the room and it will not be going away,” is true and those officials who would put our children at risk needlessly should listen carefully. Those of us who speak up are few, but those who agree are many. Please protect our children!
Jasper Coombes