From another reader:
The flaw in you correspondent’s thinking is when he says “I don’t
think the state has (or should have) the right to kill those who
are not a threat. And an incarcerated person is no longer a
threat.” A visit to the Big House might persuade him
differently. Are the lives of prison guards or check kiters less
valuable in his world view?
In any event, the case against incarceration was demonstrated by
Ruben “Hurricane” Carter. A jury found him guilty of multiple
murder. Bob Dylan wrote a song about him so Carter got another
trial and a second jury found him guilty of multiple murder.
Then some left wing judicial activists, inspired by Bob Dylan’s
song gamed the legal system to get Carter released.
The moral of the story is that in a democracy such as ours, you
cannot count on maintaining political will to do the right thing
over the long term so you have to do what you can in the short
term. In other words, if Ruben Carter had been executed, left
wing activists could not have gotten him free to roam the streets
today. Or as Side Show Bob said to Bart Simpson, “You can’t keep
a Democrat out of the White House forever.”