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Put focus on catching killers

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The best way to deter murderers is to catch the people who commit murder. The clearance rate for homicides in California is hovering just above 50 percent. Homicide detectives can’t work during the critical first stages of investigation because they are not allowed overtime. Cases sit for weeks before investigations begin. Rape kits pile up because forensic labs are closing and technicians are losing their jobs. Police presence is being reduced by furlough days. The backlog of DNA fingerprints grows every day because the Department of Justice can’t pay technicians the same wages as private industry. In the meantime, California blithely spends $140 million a year on a death penalty system that Ronald George, Chief Supreme Court Justice, says is totally dysfunctional. Five hundred chiefs of police across the nation were asked their opinion of the death penalty. Many said they liked it but overwhelmingly they said it is not a good use of resources to deter crime. We need to switch to permanent imprisonment and do a better job of catching murderers. We spend millions pursuing executions while too many families never receive the justice of the apprehension of the killer of their loved one. PAUL W. COMISKEY, Newcastle