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Wariness of government extends to views on death penalty

After describing government complicity in the criminal reign of Whitey Bulger (“Federal overreach — then and now,” Op-ed, Aug. 11), Jeff Jacoby connects some important dots. He rightly notes “that even the best government in the world depends on human beings, with all their human vices and appetites,” and that “politicians, regulators, and law enforcement agents are as capable of villainy as anyone else.”

Yet Jacoby makes no mention of one the most permanent and irreversible of government actions — the taking of a human life by way of the death penalty. Considering his vigorous support for capital punishment in the past, however, I wish he did. Like the FBI agents who assisted Bulger, the police officers, jurors, lawyers, and judges involved in a capital punishment case are fallible human beings, and the prospect for corruption or error is very real.

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“Government is dangerous, and should always be handled with care,” Jacoby concludes. His admirable caution of government power seems especially applicable when a human life is at stake. It’s my hope that in a future offering, Jacoby wrestles with his justified skepticism of government power on the one hand, and his support of capital punishment on the other.

Michael Corcoran

Cambridge

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