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January 1, 2015

New Lives for Four Killers

Harry M. Covert

To borrow a popular phrase, “When I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” Well, I did want to exhibit a sweet and nice attitude moving into a new year. But why? I’m searching for a good answer.


Several things come to mind today. If anyone, truly any political wizard, or voter thought that Martin O’Malley has a serious chance as a presidential hopeful, they will be a master forgetter. Also, save your donor money because without rubbing a crystal ball, the outgoing Maryland governor won’t be anywhere near a national ticket.


So, what makes me so intuitive? Marylanders apparently had their fill of the 61st governor and brought in a conservative of some conscience. Thankfully, the inauguration of No. 62 won’t be too soon in coming.


A day ago, Mr. O’Malley gave four killers new life. I mean the remaining four residents of North Branch Correctional Institution, a supermax facility located near Cumberland, will now enjoy more life at the expense of taxpayers


Here is the list of the latest escapees of the needle:


Vernon Lee Evans, Anthony Grandison, Heath William Burch and Jody Lee Miles.


Certainly these men will become Mr. O’Malley’s pen pals but unable to hit the hustings for him. They are smiling today as their death sentences have been commuted to life in prison. Victims’ families will find this a nice preamble for the New Year and beyond.


This move in the last days of the governor’s term is not a surprise. On May 2, 2013, he signed the General Assembly bill outlawing the death penalty.


I’ve never thought the death penalty deterred any further murders and other similar crimes in society. But executions are and were the consequence for such heinous lifestyles. I do know of the state’s history of hangings in days of yore where the method was often mass hangings. Not pleasant, of course.


There is no easy answer for solutions to crime preventions. The times of an eye-for-eye are long gone and properly so. Those who commit crimes on a regular basis truly have no fears as to penalties.


We can laugh, turn our heads and enjoy the fiction of movies, television and literature. I dare say victims’ families seldom, if ever, are able to recover from the monstrous actions of the few. They always have the consternation, the horror and the despair. My heart goes out to the families and individuals still suffering from murders. My heart also extends to the families of the perpetrators.


Mario Puzo’s words “When I thought I was out, they pull me back in,” are clever and entertaining. For sure, they give us time to escape from all cares and frustrations. There is an insatiable public appetite for ghastly details.


Translating the gory, gruesome and frightful activities into normal living is better left on screen. I’m not so sure that so many people like to live what they imagine is exciting and satisfying. Is a life in prison better than the needle, electrocution or hanging?


In my youth playing cowboys and Indians was a happy time. None of my childhood pals, nor I, ever thought shooting cap guns was dangerous. It wasn’t. Thankfully our parents, school teachers and community leaders taught us by example right from wrong. More often than not something is missing in today’s society. Actually a lot is missing.


The question is where to start? Think about it. It is not difficult. Don’t wait, please, until the maturation of age sneaks up.


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