<b>End death penalty</b>

EDITOR: While murderer Ernest Pendergrass didn't himself deserve early release, even for the final two months of his life, I appreciate that his family was able to have some good final memories with their loved one ("SR killer, 90, dies following release," Thursday). We have ignored the effects on families of our prison and justice policies to the detriment of our national conscience.

That's one of the main reasons I oppose the death penalty. If you're a 15-year-old kid whose beloved uncle is executed, do you shrug and say, "Well, he deserved it, I guess"? No. You don't learn not to do what they did after they're killed by the state, any more than the family of a drunken-driving victim learns not to drive when drunks are out. Instead, you say, "The U.S. killed my uncle," and the cycle of resentment and revenge continues, with families continuing to be affected long after the executed person is dead and gone.

Killing is a privilege of revenge that the state reserves for itself. We pretend that the families of the guilty don't suffer unjustly, just as the families of innocent victims do. Otherwise, we wouldn't agree that the state can do legally — putting citizens to death — something for which individuals are punished.


Santa Rosa