Letters for September 29 

Readers sound off on Che Guevara, the death penalty, Macbeth, and double standards.

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Some are opposed to the death penalty for religious reasons, whereas capital punishment doesn't coincide with the tenets of their religion. In spite of what their true disposition may be, effort is made to follow the teachings of their faith. Nevertheless, under the right circumstances, some of them would be the first to judge, convict, and condemn.

Some oppose the death penalty on moral grounds. They believe it to be barbaric and inhumane. However, there are some of them who only have a qualm with the state's method of execution. To this end, they call for a more effective protocol, a more humane way of killing the condemned.

Those who are conscious and well-informed tend to reject the death penalty on many levels. They know that the criminal justice system is racist, flawed, corrupt, and unjust. For instance, when it comes to investigating and/or prosecuting a case, the state has access to unlimited resources. Public defenders fall on the other side of the spectrum. Their budgets have never been carte blanche. Such disparities make it difficult for a criminal defendant to receive a fair trial. Due process should always be elevated when dealing with one's very existence. If not, a guilty verdict doesn't disprove actual innocence.

Now on to the economy. There are those who oppose the death penalty solely on economic grounds. A recent 2010 survey showed that support for the death penalty had dropped from 79 percent to 66 percent. Thus, as the economy crumbles, so does support for the death penalty. This may explain why the L.A. Times recently reported that "California's capital punishment system has drawn widespread criticism as the most cost-inefficient in the country, having executed only 13 people in more than 30 years." This insinuates that the killing machine is not only too costly, but too idle! Life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) is now being (re)considered as a cheaper alternative.

* It costs $49,300 to incarcerate one inmate for one year.

* It costs $138,000 to incarcerate one death row inmate for one year.

There are well over 700 prisoners on California's death row. I am one of them, however I do not speak for all of them. As an innocent man on death row, I dare add my discernment to the debate. LWOP vs. the death penalty ... I see little difference. Do they both not end in death? Is the state any less guilty of murderous revenge? Let us not consider LWOP a victory, but rather a bare beginning.

There are numerous inmates to vindicate. The prison system is littered with those who have been wrongfully convicted. To warehouse or execute even one is too many! Give to them hope and liberty; not some empty alternative that only serves an economic purpose. To truly resolve the death penalty, and a litany of other problems, injustice and inequality must hereby be abolished!

Tim Young, San Quentin


"An Art Project For the Birds," Eco Watch, 8/25

Habitat for No One

The "project" at the meadow of the Berkeley Marina is not a "Habitat Restoration," as the sign claims, nor is it really a "park," as claimed by the other sign. It is really a development of a special interest group that has gained control of the area and has fenced out the public, though it is public land and its management is paid for by public funds; it is in effect the private nursery of that special interest group.

The land, which is a huge area almost the size of the UC Berkeley campus, was originally under water, so there was no habitat to be restored. Like its neighbor, Chavez Park, it became a landfill and a dump until the early Seventies, when a wilderness grew and thrived there, and a multitude of nature-lovers enjoyed its wildlife for three decades until it was clear-cut a few years ago.

Students from UC would visit there to study its eden of wildflowers and all the rabbits and reptiles that the owls and hawks would feed upon, and of course there were flocks and flocks of red-winged blackbirds and finches, and yes, migratory birds as well, who would visit during the rainy season.

The land belonged to Santa Fe Railroad at first, but it was handed over to the public in a process that was influenced by the Citizens for Eastshore State Parks, until some members of that group used their influence and their connections with East Bay Regional Parks to have it fenced and clear-cut for their own agenda, indifferent to the general public.

And now the wildlife is gone and it has become a wasteland where no one goes except to use the single ugly fenced-in trail as a short cut from one end to the other. It is called a "resource protection area," but the actual resource was clear-cut and what remains is in effect the private property of a small group who have power over it.

Pete Najarian, Berkeley


"Sacramento Takes a Nap," Seven Days, 9/1

Far From Heartening

When the Berkeley Daily Planet went out of business, I and two colleagues who had acted to rid our community of that anti-Semitic scourge found ourselves termed Zio-Cons by Express reporter Robert Gammons in his Seven Days column. My friends and those of my colleagues all had quite a laugh about that, as we are well known in Berkeley as moderate to quite liberal Democrats. In a letter subsequently published in the Express, I conveyed that to get to the truth of this matter, rather than taking as gospel the allegations of the Planet's chief reporter, all Gammons had to do was ask us.

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