In once again advocating for the death penalty for cop-killers last month, Governor Charlie Baker went on to point to the real issue, which is leniency for criminals.

The governor renewed his call after Auburn police officer Ronald Tarentino was shot and killed in the course of what appeared to be a routine traffic stop. The accused, Jorge Zambrano, was shot and killed following a lengthy standoff with police.

Mr. Baker acknowledged that he didn't see anything changing in a state where a recent Boston Globe poll found that only 20 percent of residents supported the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who received that sentence under federal law. The many examples of people sentenced to death and sometimes executed for crimes they did not commit have caused many states to pull back from the death penalty, as have the failures of drugs designed to kill those convicted quickly to do so. The death of the police officer was shameful, but so is any murder, and the state should not be in the business of eye-for-an-eye barbarity.


The governor wondered why Mr. Zambrano, whose lengthy criminal history included a charge of assaulting a police officer earlier this year and an arrest for driving without a license in early May, was out on the streets the day he confronted Officer Tarentino. The real issues are slowness in getting cases to court and light sentences for career criminals.