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No Death Penalty Means Building Prisons

The opinion-page article ''A Governor Who Rejected Death Penalty's Passions,'' Feb. 23, states: ''At least 23 people are believed to have been wrongfully executed in the United States since the turn of the century.'' If this is true, then another figure needs to be taken into account as well. How many innocent people, since the turn of the century, have been murdered by convicted killers who have either escaped or been released from prison and have killed again?

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo projects an ideally infallible solution to this when he states: ''true life imprisonment, with no possibility of parole ... none, under any circumstances.'' For those who would abolish the death penalty, how can someone guarantee that this would actually happen?

It would require not only a clear and enduring will to do this, but on the practical level, it would require more prison space. Those who are opposed to building more prisons are actually aligning themselves in opposition to Mr. Cuomo's solution, and ultimately against abolishing the death penalty.

We cannot both abolish the death penalty and refrain from building more prisons, and still uphold what Cuomo acknowledges as our ''right to demand a civilized level of law and peace.'' It would seem that we need more facts and more objective discussion on this subject.

Daniel Kingman

Sacramento, Calif.

[Editor's note: 31 prisoners were executed nationally in 1994 out of a prison population of 1 million. Executed prisoners average about nine years behind bars before their sentence is carried out.]

In defense of the arts, humanities

Thank you for the opinion-page article ''On Preserving Liberal Spaces,'' March 6. I attended a fine liberal space, which still has the ''honor code'' as well as a group known ''Freya'' that walks the campus silently several times a year at night with flashlights (replacing candles carried in former decades) -- symbolically keeping the flame lit, as mentioned by Dr. Gaudiani in the article. We need each and every one of the liberal arts. Computer or technological literacy at the expense of ars humana would be fatal.

In the debate over funding for public broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities the worth of the arts to every member of our country is inestimable. It should be the highest priority of our national budget. I apologize to the unknown creator of the following phrase that was shared with me at a concert several years ago: ''Math and science are how we live, art and music are why we live.''

Emily Teller

Westford, Mass.

Let's talk about sex -- the right way

The article ''TV Values: Bart's Bad Influence,'' Feb. 28, stated that portrayals of sex shown on TV were too much for little children to see that early in life. Children learn about sex through various ways, some right and some wrong. The right way is for parents to sit down with their children and carefully explain all they need to know, depending upon what point they are in their lives. Teach the children the proper ways about sex. Make sure the children have no doubts or questions. If people are having such a fit about their children watching shows on TV that portray sex, then teach them the right way, and don't isolate them from reality.

Natalie Gibson

Rexburg, Idaho

Letters provide the key to freedom

I was pleased to read the Home Forum page article ''A Liberating Flood of Letters,'' March 1. Its concluding message, ''Free at last,'' proves that writing letters to coercive governments does bring release of those unjustly incarcerated, even after 12 years.

Today I sent five letters overseas to government officials in Taiwan, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Georgia, and Azerbaijan, as directed by the Amnesty International newsletter. I appealed for the unconditional and immediate release of certain individuals who are imprisoned in those countries as ''prisoners of conscience.''

I hope articles like the one in the Monitor will induce more readers to become Amnesty International writing activists and join in this humane effort to help free more of those imprisoned unjustly.

Charles F. Rasoli

Long Island City, N.Y.

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