Reading John Branston's column (City Beat, May 18th issue) supporting capital punishment is like hearing one side of a good debate. One listens to the arguments and starts to be convinced that there is only one logical conclusion. Then, the other side presents the countervailing facts, and one becomes aware of the lack of balance and perspective in the original argument.
In Sedley Alley's case, while it is true that Alley did confess to the crime, several elements of the confession were not consistent with the crime, nor was eyewitness identification consistent with Alley's appearance, and possible discrepancies in the crime timeline are troublesome. As for complaints about the length of time it takes to execute condemned prisoners, the Innocence Project has been attempting to get the DNA evidence tested, at no cost to the state, for several years. It is the prosecution that is responsible for the latest delay. It is truly an Alice-in-Wonderland world where the prosecution resists finding the truth and commentators don't question their motives.
Several of the nearly 120 inmates released from death row after having been found innocent of charges were on death row for 20 or more years. Justice was gained only through last-minute appeals and DNA testing not available at the time of the trial.
The larger issue, however, is the debate over the necessity of the death penalty, even if the condemned are guilty of the heinous crimes they were convicted of. Americans wonder why we have so much violence and neglect to see that our solution is the ultimate form of violence. At a time when the death penalty's necessity, morality, and fairness are being questioned, Tennessee is apparently gearing up for a spate of executions. While no other Western democracy utilizes the death penalty, we join China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in accounting for 94 percent of government executions.
David Giacopassi, Memphis
Take a Swing
Seems to me the mayor of Memphis could quickly solve the financial crisis for LeMoyne-Owen College by offering to box anyone who would donate some big bucks to the school. Maybe he could let anyone take a swing at him for a $100,000 donation. He might be surprised at how quickly folks would line up for the opportunity. If it worked, he might renew the offer a few months later (giving him time to recover from his whuppings) to raise money to solve the city's revenue shortfall.
David F. Diamond, Memphis
Impressed With Memphis
On a recent visit to Memphis, I was most impressed. I attended a Redbirds game and enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere of the ballpark. I discovered a store in Midtown called Valenza Pasta that sells fresh pasta and side dishes. Best ravioli I've ever eaten!
What I enjoyed most about your beautiful city was the lush greenery, flowers, and gardens. I will definitely return!
Sherry L. Alexander, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Defeat Marriage Amendment
It is imperative that the Senate marriage amendment, which would ban same-sex marriage in the U.S., be defeated. Discrimination in the Constitution cannot be tolerated. I urge all readers to contact their senators and urge them to vote no. The vote is in early June, so please don't delay.
Jason Marshall, Memphis
The Bush administration and Republican-controlled Congress ply their oil trade for all to see (Viewpoint, May 11th issue). If you are a Republican or conservative and you voted for your oil buddies in the White House, don't complain about the high price of gas.
And we shouldn't kid ourselves: The anti-immigration agenda is rooted in the dirty history of bigotry and racism, and Republicans are playing the immigration card for all it's worth. Ignorance and hatred never change.
Ron Lowe, Grass Valley, California