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Is there a viable alternative to the death penalty?

12:45 PM EST, December 10, 2012

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Everyone obviously has an impassioned opinion regarding the death penalty ("Next up: Death penalty," Dec. 3). I have myself wavered in my stance regarding this issue. Is there any benefit to society to repeal the law? If the state retains capital punishment, does it act as a deterrent for people on the street? Does the criminal even think about the consequences before he pulls the trigger and snuffs out the life of another?

A writer to The Sun made some significant points regarding abolishing the death penalty ("Time to repeal Maryland death penalty," Dec. 5), but he does not suggest any viable alternatives. There has to be an alternative to capital punishment as a societal deterrent. One example would be a hard labor life sentence. The prisoners could be teamed with others to prepare dilapidated vacant urban residences for habitation. How about sewer-cleaning crews? At least these suggestions would be utilizing the criminals' physical abilities in a positive way.

If there are no alternatives, we are figuratively handing the keys to the lawbreakers to wreak havoc at will and engender fear and loathing among all citizens in our society.

Patrick R. Lynch, Nottingham

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