Re "A monster should be executed" (Marcos Breton, Jan. 27): I agree with Marcos Breton's column on the death penalty as it applies to Richard Hirschfield. He is beneath contempt. I also agree that the death penalty in California is, for victims' families, a cruel hoax. Breton breathes the fire of outrageous injustice about a process that mocks the essential meaning of crime and punishment.
The problem is that there are no studies that show the existing death penalty to be a deterrent to murder. Perhaps especially so in California, where the appeals process takes seven years just to appoint a qualified attorney, and almost 20 years to exhaust the intentionally multi-tiered process. With the passing of decades, we have managed to neuter the connection between the crime, the punishment, and the deterrent effect and without that, the death penalty, in essence, becomes revenge.
-- Donald Schell, Sacramento