The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


July 10, 2013

Readers' Forum 7-10 | Keep Route 219 in present location


— Impossible to justify death penalty

I am writing concerning the Readers’ Forum letter July 4 by Joseph Mandichak, “Court trial in lawyer assault meaningless,” commenting on the futility of taking Andre Staton to trial for the courtroom assault on his defense attorney.

Court administrators will tell you that there will be several million dollars spent on any death penalty case, covering the costs of appeals. There is also the $100,000 plus spent annually, above the cost of keeping a convict in general population. Death row is very expensive to maintain.

I agree that any trial would be a waste of taxpayer money and of the court’s time, but it is the proverbial “drop in the bucket” compared to the cost of attempting to carry out a death sentence. It should be noted that our state has the third-largest death row in the nation, yet has executed only three people since 1962.

In short, had Staton been sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, something required for first-degree murder, he would have never been in court, would not have assaulted anyone, and the taxpayers would be spared the cost of pursuing an execution that will never occur anyway.

It seems likely that Staton now will be held in “super max” conditions. This means he will have no human contact without being securely shackled, hands and feet. The bottom line is that he will not be a threat to anyone, not even prison staff and inmates.

In simple taxpayer costs, it is impossible to justify the death penalty.

Richard J. Holsinger


City needs to embrace new ideas and change

I have been following the proposals of the city crime commission, Rep. Bryan Barbin and new member of council Joseph Taranto. I am urging all citizens of Johnstown to attend these meetings, especially city council, to see the council at work and to learn each’s views and how they work together for our common good.

Or are they divided?

These are council people. We all are the city, not just a few. We need to pull together, not apart, to save our town.

I was surprised at Councilwoman Marie Mock’s reaction to a proposal for a board of volunteers to assist and be, in my opinion, the eyes and ears for those leaders who are already overburdened.

Members of council sometimes serve on other boards and have families and jobs. I assumed help would be welcomed. Just like with the West End Improvement Group, which started meeting, came on strong with community spirit and primarily consists of four members – Mock, John Slezak, Rose Horwath and Connie Martin. They were welcomed for their ideas and enthusiasm; no one called them vigilantes. They are all volunteers.

Living in Johnstown, we take the good with the bad and work with it. We survive.

Hopefully, with some new plans in place, we will stop the crime wave, make this a safer place to live again, clean up the blight, make our city sparkle, bring people back into our town and promote home-buying. New ideas and change aren’t to be feared but embraced and worked out together as a town.

Lindy Yutzy


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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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