The April 23 article “Kamei seeks to undermine death penalty” states “A 2004 government opinion poll showed that 81.4 percent of respondents supported the death penalty, on the grounds that only capital punishment can provide true closure to the families of the victims, and that executions act as a deterrent to future crimes. Only 6 percent of the respondents were against capital punishment.”

It seems clear from the quoted paragraph that the poll questions were slanted toward getting the result the government wanted. Studies have repeatedly found no evidence that capital punishment acts as a deterrent. If it is a deterrent, why does Texas continue to have a high murder rate and a high number of executions?

Many families of victims do not want capital punishment; several have joined Amnesty International’s efforts to abolish the death penalty. There is little evidence to suggest that capital punishment provides more closure than a sentence of life without parole. The long, drawn-out legal maneuvering surrounding the death penalty can even prolong the suffering of the victim’s families.

Allowing victims’ families to help determine whether a killer is sentenced to death makes it clear that this is state-assisted revenge, not justice. The justice minister was reportedly trying to find ways to avoid having to sign death warrants because of the grave responsibility. Imagine what it does to the prison officers who have to carry out these murders. Good luck to Shizuka Kamei’s campaign.

mark callow