Letter: DA has conflict on death penalty | October 17, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - October 17, 2012

Letter: DA has conflict on death penalty

Stephen Wagstaffe, the district attorney of San Mateo County, has sought the death penalty for an individual convicted in 1989 for the horrific crimes of torture, sexual assault and murder.

Questions can be raised about the ethics or prudence of Mr. Wagstaffe accepting a co-chair position in a coalition seeking to defeat Proposition 34. The substance of this proposition falls squarely within the prosecutorial mission of his office. Should not his professional obligation be to "execute" the law, and not attempt to influence its formation and enactment?

There is considerable discussion on both sides of the proposition on the financial cost of the death penalty. Mr. Wagstaffe states, "We shouldn't be deciding it (the death penalty) on the money, we should decide whether its right or wrong. ..."

He is correct. Rightness or wrongness is a moral issue, and falls in the domain of organized religion, especially those with the evangelical "pro-life" agenda. This pro-life spectrum spans from birth to "natural death." Executing an individual can hardly be considered "natural death." Yet leaders of organized religion have been relatively docile in opposing the death penalty in California.

I urge those who believe in the sanctity of life to vote Yes on Proposition 34.

Henry Organ, Euclid Avenue, Menlo Park


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