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Letters: Death penalty is an essential option

The gurney in the Texas death house in

The gurney in the Texas death house in Huntsville, Texas. Credit: AP, 2008

Columnist Leonard Pitts criticizes Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's support for the death penalty and calls arguments against it "logical" ["Objection! Justice Scalia out of order," Opinion, June 15].

I would point to what many in the criminal justice system have referred to as the poster boy for the death penalty, Lemuel Smith. Smith began his career of violence against women at the age of 11 when he claimed he attempted to smother a 9-year-old girl.

Later in life, after confessing to five murders, Smith was sentenced to life imprisonment. If he were executed for these multiple murders, he would not have been alive when he once again took the life of a woman, a correction officer, Donna Payant.

There are logical arguments in favor of the death penalty, as well.

Peter Kelly, Medford

Leonard Pitts writes of how Justice Antonin Scalia uses the most horrific murders to defend capital punishment. He then goes on to attack execution by citing a most horrific mistake in conviction, using the same logic as Scalia.

The answer is to throw out the high and the low, and to examine the overwhelming majority of cases, which lie in the middle. Life is the most precious commodity extant. We express our reverence for it by taking on, through the government we empower, the greivous burden of taking life, when circumstances and the need to render justice on behalf of the victim call for it.

Steven Siegel, Nesconset