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The Death Penalty and the Innocent

The article "Supreme Court Limits Death-Penalty Appeals," Jan. 27, is disturbing; it describes an innocent man's fight to get off death row. It is devastating to think that he will be put to death for something that he did not do. It is even more devastating that society is trying to justify killing him, and I find it hard to believe that these rules could lead to the killing of an innocent man. In effect, the man is being accused of doing exactly what the Supreme Court is doing to him.

I strongly believe that killing an innocent man is murder, whether he is killed by the Supreme Court or by a hardened criminal. Justice Harry Blackmun wrote: "The execution of a person who can show that he is innocent comes perilously close to murder." It doesn't just come close to murder; it is murder. Becky Howie, Rexburg, Idaho

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If as the article claims, there have been 23 executions in this century of the clearly innocent, how can executions continue to be justified? The only exception might be a confession of guilt and a request for execution, as is the case in a recent hanging. Even there, the state's hand remains bloody. Richard J. Furnoy, Loomis, Calif. BAs for NBAs

The sports article "Shaq Sets the House on Fire," Jan. 25, talks very highly of Shaquille O'Neal and his superstar performance as a rookie in the National Basketball Association. Today the NBA is drafting younger, faster, bigger, and more agile players. This is great for coaches and fans, but the key word is "younger." Do the young players in the NBA have college degrees for a future career? Some may, but what about Moses Malone, who entered the NBA after high school; or Michael Jordan, who left college early to play professional basketball?

It's great that Dr. J (Julius Erving) was able to speak to Shaquille about the importance of an education, but the NBA needs to encourage athletes more fully to achieve their bachelor's degrees before entering the NBA. All it takes is one injury to ruin a basketball career. Tom Westhora, Rexburg, Idaho US or the world first?

Regarding the Opinion page column "Clinton's Top Priority: Rebuilding America," Jan. 22: Why can't anyone, especially President Clinton, see the responsibility Americans need to take in order to strengthen America? We need to focus on our own problems and become less concerned with those of other countries.

I agree with the columnist that it is necessary to rebuild our own nation before we can successfully contribute to the prosperity of other countries in the world. How can we save the world when we can't save ourselves from self-destruction and national corruption? Tawnya Garrett, Rexburg, Idaho The future of education

Regarding the Learning page article "Bush Education Boss Looks Ahead," Jan. 19: I was amused and amazed at the theoretical yet pedantic answers by former Education Secretary Lamar Alexander to questions about the Bush administration's education program.

According to Mr. Alexander, he tried to push a proposal (school choice) for which the general public is not yet prepared. I think that decision should be left to industry task forces, and government should provide resources to states for current needs as dictated by local conditions. Multicultural information, basic skills, and vocational training are needs that leap out at educators around the country every day. I think that the Bush education effort missed the boat. Gerald Nelson, Ventura, Calif.

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