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Nothing cruel, unusual about firing squad

To the editor:

On April 17, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court declared Kentucky’s death penalty by lethal injection to be constitutional.

In the early 1980s, the Nevada Legislature voted for lethal injection as the method of execution for the death penalty.

As a member of the Nevada Assembly, in the Judiciary Committee hearings, I do not remember any testimony that lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment.

In fact, at that time, it was considered much more humane than such other methods of execution as the electric chair.

But the main reason for the change was because Nevada’s antiquated gas chamber was leaking lethal gas and was a danger to the witnesses sitting outside the glassed-in chamber. Also, repairs to prevent the leaks were very costly.

One of the other assemblymen suggested — he was only half-joking — that Nevada go back to the firing squad as a method of execution (practiced in the state of Utah not many years ago). After all, it would cost only the price of one bullet. (The others have blanks. No member of the firing squad is supposed to know who fired the fatal shot.)

Perhaps the firing squad is the best method of execution — the least cruel and unusual. Either that or amending the Constitution to abolish the death penalty entirely.

JANE HAM

LAS VEGAS

‘Custody’ and ‘control’

To the editor:

In his Tuesday letter to the editor, Kevin L. Stockton asked the question, “Am I the only person who sees an expansion of random drug testing in public schools as dangerous?” To which I reply: No, Mr. Stockton, you are not the only one.

But to fully understand how the Clark County School District is able to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of school students, you have to read the insanity of Veronia School District v. Acton, the 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision that gives the state the right to subject students to unwarranted medical testing. The subtext of their decision that concerns me the most reads as follows:

“The first factor to be considered in determining reasonableness is the nature of the privacy interest on which the search intrudes. Here, the subjects of the policy are children who have been committed to the temporary custody of the State as schoolmaster; in that capacity the State may exercise a degree of supervision and control greater than it could over free adults.

“The requirements that public school children submit to physical examinations and be vaccinated indicate that they have a lesser privacy expectation with regard to medical examinations and procedures than the general population. Student athletes have even less of a legitimate expectation, for an element of communal undress is inherent in athletic participation, and athletes are subject to physical exams and rules regulating their conduct.”

What I’m reading here is the Supreme Court doesn’t consider anyone under the age of 18 as part of the general population, and the use of the words “committed,” “custody,” and “control” sends up more than a few red flags. They have also stated that it’s OK to violate a person’s constitutional rights if he changes his clothes in front of another human being.

The last time I checked, the U.S. Constitution starts with the words, “We the people.” It doesn’t say, “We some of the people.” The violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights based on the unreasonable suspicion of perceived behavior is unconstitutional.

Since drug and alcohol use is learned behavior, for every student who is subjected to an unwarranted medical test, a parent, teacher and school administrator should also be tested.

Jeff Silverman

LAS VEGAS

Apples and oranges

To the editor:

In Wednesday’s Review-Journal, syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell asked: “If corporate ‘greed’ is the explanation for high gasoline prices, why are the government’s taxes not an even bigger sign of ‘greed’ on the part of politicians?”

I think Mr. Sowell slipped an orange into his apple box.

The answer to his question is that the government’s taxes are returned to the taxpayer in the form of highway improvements.

David L. Sullivan

LAS VEGAS

Incentive for debt

To the editor:

We have been with the same insurance company for six years with no claims. Suddenly our payment for both our home and auto doubled. The explanation was not bad credit, but that we have no credit.

We are not a part of this generation that must have it all right now. We have no credit cards and don’t want any. We save for what we need.

Credit counselors on TV advertise “paying off” your credit cards to get out of debt. Why? As we’ve learned, no credit gets you penalized. Something is wrong with this picture.

GENE LeROY

EILEEN LeROY

HENDERSON

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