Regarding your front-page story on Sunday ("Pa. juries reluctant to condemn killers"): It is easy to mock the jury system and indeed there are many long-running jokes, such as, "I don't want to be judged by 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty."

Nevertheless, and despite some flaws, it is still the best system of justice so far created.

It is hard to find fault with people who abhor the death penalty as vindictive, ineffective, barbaric, expensive, and subject to irreversible error. Capital punishment is bad law that should not be on the books. It is also almost never carried out.

Life without parole, and I stress the without, is a much more terrifying sentence because our maximum-security prisons are not country clubs and, in some cases, inmates have their own ideas of justice.

Few countries other than some in Asia and the Middle East still tolerate the death sentence. If a person, or country, is known by the company it keeps, we are morally on the wrong side.

Ralph D. Bloch