Attorney General Dick Thornburgh's letter of Sept. 23 regarding the House Crime Bill attempts to perpetuate a myth by simply ignoring facts, a fine art for most politicians. The myth is that there is an "unending process of appeals" in death penalty cases. Mr. Thornburgh opposes the House bill because, he charges, it would "delay indefinitely the imposition of the death penalty."
"Unending process"? "Delay indefinitely"? Surely, the attorney general knows that the process has ended 140 times since 1979. Has he forgotten that the retarded Louisiana defendant, Dalton Prejean, was unable to delay his execution past May of this year. (Like every juvenile offender executed in Louisiana since slavery, Mr. Prejean was a black youth sentenced to death by an all-white jury.) Or that when Jessie Tafero's head burst into flames in Florida during his electrocution this year, it definitely ended the process for him.
I don't object to the attorney general's support for the death penalty nearly as much as I object to the dishonest terms in which he couches it. Due process of law definitely takes time. It's cumbersome, time consuming and inefficient. But it is not "unending." There have been a dozen executions since June alone. We could, of course, dispense with due process altogether in regards to the death penalty. Then we could be assured of swift executions, just like they have in Iraq. MICHAEL A. KROLL Executive Director Death Penalty Information Center Washington