THE SHOOTING of Officer Cassidy shows why America, especially Philadelphia, needs the death penalty back.

In New York for a better part of the century, a first-degree murder conviction was an automatic death sentence. Judges could not play favorites or spare a murderer because "they felt they could be rehabilitated."

That's why all of those old gangster movies and stories passed down from older generations were in awe of the electric chair at Sing Sing prison.

The death penalty applied to everyone from the accessories who drove the getaway car to the notorious assassins of Murder Inc. The appeals process was way swifter as well. I've come across cases where defendants were tried and executed within eight months.

This process would never have allowed human excrement like Mumia to sit on death row and write books and give speeches. Much like today's killers, yesterday's were arrogant sociopaths too lazy to work a 9 to 5 job to feed their families.

They were racketeers, drug dealers and career criminals. But the major difference between the two eras is that when a New York judge told that killer, "You are hereby turned over to the state prison to carry out this court's punishment," that defendant knew he was going to ride the lightning. They knew it wasn't a game.

The main argument against the death penalty is that it isn't a deterrent. Even as a pro-death penalty advocate, I agree. It isn't a deterrent simply because we never apply it.

My cousin was premeditatedly murdered by a drug dealer, and the court twisted the outcome into a third-degree murder conviction and a sentence of 50 years!

A jury even spared al Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui from the death penalty. The "Night Stalker" is painting pictures and getting married on death row. Gary Heidnik would probably still be alive had he decided to keep fighting. A death sentence simply doesn't mean death in this country anymore, and therefore its main purpose of being a deterrent is out the window.

Another issue in the deterrence of the death penalty is the means by which we apply it. Today's criminals simply go to sleep. There is argument that lethal injection paralyzes the muscles while the person goes into cardiac arrest. I've never given it much thought because my mind has always been focused on the victim, not the degree of pain inflicted on the murderer.

Hopefully it does hurt. But when given the choice of death by electric chair and lethal injection, I'd bet 100 percent of the scum select the needle. The chair was torture. Sometimes it took five to 10 minutes to die and up to three high-powered jolts.

Now, if the electric chair seems extreme for today's society, take a look at what happened to Officer Cassidy, a man who died protecting you and your family from society's trash. It wasn't just his job to do this, it was his personality. Now, honestly, tell yourself that the shooter doesn't deserve to "ride the lightning."

Michael Bickings

Philadelphia