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Letters Capital punishment

December 29, 2018

Keen observerRegarding “Executions R Us,” (Editorial, Sunday), the editorial’s well-studied argument for dumping Texas’ death penalty also underscores reasons to retain it. One of the quoted studies says only 1 of every 24 given the sentence over a 30-year period was wrongly convicted. This doesn’t appear to be an epidemic of injustice. The editorial also effectively details the costly appellate process in the Lone Star State. If there is bad evidence or an overly ambitious prosecutor, convictions are generally reversed, and new trials granted.Ronald Clark O’Bryan got all the appeals the system allowed after he poisoned his son with cyanide-laced Halloween candy. The appeals took about a decade. Carl Wayne Buntion remains on death row with successful appeals after he murdered Houston Police Officer Jim Irby. He has been there going on 30 years. Appeals add years of life to the convict, even on death row. These two examples happen to be white guys.Let’s address the current inclinations of juries in Harris County. A Houston Police Department prisoner fatally shot an officer. He was an Hispanic immigrant living in Houston illegally, the officer was an African-American. A jury assessed the killer life without parole. Maybe race is one factor in these cases, maybe not.Another point: Often rapists — most of whom studies show are “serials” — easily get away with their crimes and currently experience a low conviction rate. Maybe re-implementation of capital punishment for rape should be considered. After all, rape victims serve a life sentence of sorts and don’t get what amounts to the decades-long appeals that their attackers are entitled to.Tom Kennedy, HoustonValue risingRegarding “With help from Permian oil, UT endowment hits $31B” (Business cover, Wednesday): It’s great that the University of Texas endowment has reached $31 billion but the important question is: “What are they going to do with it?”Since education is the key to prosperity for students and countries, I propose that most of that money be allocated for scholarships for needy students. The high cost of college education is putting many of our young people in serious debt that could hound them for many years. I know a young man who had a debt of $186,000 after graduating from the University of St. Thomas.We need free tuition in public colleges, which seven countries in Europe already have.UT should also sell its pile of gold, which costs money to store, and invest the proceeds in high-dividend stocks.The state should also kick in more money to our public colleges, stipulating that it go to scholarships for deserving students.Jimmy Dunne, HoustonReal longshotRegarding “Ignore the skeptics: Beto has the chops to run for president” (Outlook, Dec. 16): I believe that it would be premature for U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke to run for the presidency in the 2020 election. He should run again for U.S. senator, this time against John Cornyn. This would then give him the opportunity to gain national experience and exposure, which would put him in a far better position to run for president within the next couple of decades.Brian L. Hope, Bryan

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