Moral leadership

The banning of the death penalty in New Jersey was long overdue. I am relieved and heartened that this will be recognized as a turning point in our thinking regarding the execution of our fellow human beings, regardless of the heinousness of their actions.

Last week's votes in the Legislature were timely (Inquirer, Dec. 14), coming in the same week we celebrate Human Rights Day and the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I thank Gov. Corzine and state Senate President Richard J. Codey (D., Essex) for their moral leadership.

At long last we can leave the company of countries such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China and Iran and refuse execution as an option in our judicial process.

Janet Bruner

Shamong

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Join the real world

If only the lawmakers in New Jersey who voted to abolish the death penalty lived in the real world (Inquirer, Dec. 14). I can't help but wonder how many live in secure, upper-class communities sheltered from the harsh reality of violent death. And it's easy for Gov. Corzine to sign the bill. He has bodyguards.

The worst argument in the debate is that the death penalty does not deter crime. Tell us now, oh wise men and women of the Legislature, what will deter a murderer in prison from murdering other prisoners or guards? You have removed the last reason for murderers to fear the consequences of their actions and the last safeguard for defenseless citizens. Instead you chose to protect thugs and assassins, child and wife murderers. You are a disgrace to your office.

Stephen M. Davis

Souderton

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Too many mistakes

Too many mistakes have been made in our justice system. The New Jersey Legislature did the right thing by voting to eliminate the death penalty (Inquirer, Dec. 14). Life without parole prevents mistakes and saves money on expensive trials and time-consuming appeals that could be better spent on apprehending fugitives and preventing crime.

Larry Cirignano

Far Hills

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Cleanup funding

The editorial "Funding Waste Cleanup: Down to the wire, again" (Inquirer, Dec. 14) referred to legislation I sponsored with State Sen. Mary Jo White (R., Venango) to fund Pennsylvania's Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) responsibilities as "stopgap" funding and said "a permanent funding source" needs to be found.

Senate Bill 1100, which the governor has indicated he will sign, provides full funding for HSCA through June 30, 2011. Very few state programs have that kind of guaranteed funding.

We agree that permanent funding for HSCA is the ideal. What is being done now as an intermediate step ensures that HSCA will not be subjected to political gamesmanship while we work toward a longer-term solution.

State Sen. Dominic F. Pileggi

(R., Delaware and Chester)

Harrisburg

Never forget Dec. 7

Thank you for your article on the sneak attack by Japan on the innocent military personnel stationed at Pearl Harbor ("A time to remember," Dec. 7). Thanks also for starting your tribute to what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "a date which will live in infamy" on the front page.

Perhaps it is right to forgive Japan for the actions of its misguided 1940s-era leaders, but again we must never forget this event and subsequent atrocities such as the Bataan Death March.

David W. Campbell

Philadelphia