‘The Moral High Ground’: Connecticut Senate Votes to Abolish Death Penalty
The Associated Press reports that the Senate voted 20-16 in favor of abolition after 11 hours of impassioned debate. The abolition bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass, and then to the desk of Democratic Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who said he would sign it into law.
That would make Connecticut the 17th state, plus the District of Columbia, to ban capital punishment.
“I think it is a pivotal step,” Sen. Eric Coleman (D-Bloomfield) told the AP. “It moves us towards a more enlightened posture on the issue and puts us more in line with other New England states.” Indeed, if Connecticut abolished capital punishment as predicted, New Hampshire will be the only state in the region that still executes people.
In order to secure passage of the abolition measure, lawmakers included the stipulation that the 11 inmates currently incarcerated on the state’s death row would still face execution. Many lawmakers and other officials insisted on this condition because two men, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, are awaiting execution for a horrifically brutal 2007 triple rape and murder of a Cheshire family.
Dr. William Petit, who lost his wife and two young daughters in that heinous crime, is dead-set against abolition.
” [I] believe in the death penalty because we believe it is really the only true just punishment for certain heinous and depraved murders,” he is quoted in the Daily Mail.
“One thing you never hear the abolitionists talk about is the victims. Almost never. The forgotten people. The people who died and can’t be here to speak for themselves,” he added.
“The people that were tortured. The people that were raped. The people that were murdered. They just do not have a voice.”
The repeal bill would replace execution with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Inmates convicted of what are currently capital offenses will also be held in harsh prison conditions.
“This is a severe and certain punishment,” Senate President Donald Williams Jr. told the AP. “This does almost exactly mirror the conditions for those prisoners on death row.”
Connecticut has only executed one person in the last half century; serial killer Michael Ross was put to death by lethal injection in 2005.
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