Follow the law

In response to Garren Bought’s January 16th letter, “Hang Criminals”, I would like to ask him a few simple questions. Garren, have you ever read the book 1984? Are you familiar with the terms “police state” and “Gestapo”? No? How about “due process of law”? I didn’t think so.

This is not to say that I believe criminals should be dealt with lightly; quite the opposite. I agree that if a man acting of his own free will takes the life of another human being (except in cases of self_defense), he should pay with his life.

However, the rub is that society seldom, if ever, knows for certain whether a suspect is guilty of the crime of murder. There may be convincing circumstantial evidence, but this should not be confused with solid proof of guilt. Garren, what you propose, i.e. allowing illegally obtained evidence or confessions in court, would empower the police to harass, arrest, jail, or even frame, convict and execute people they view as undesirable. Think back to the Rodney King videotape. Do you really want to reaffirm the police’s ability to administer any punishment they deem fit upon a suspect? It strikes me as infantile that you question the fact that a “confession” may in reality have been beaten out of a suspect by overzealous police officers.

Garren, you seem to believe that once a person dons the uniform and badge of a police officer, he is undoubtedly your friend and could never do anything unethical.

In short, the procedural laws of our country are designed to protect the common citizen and keep the government from wielding too much power. To dispense with these laws would surely facilitate a great many more convictions, the end result being that we would no longer live in fear of criminals. We would live in fear of the police.

Matthew Spaeth