Connecticut lawmakers vote to repeal death penalty

Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:52pm EDT

Related Topics

(Reuters) - The Connecticut House of Representatives gave final legislative approval on Wednesday to the repeal of the state's death penalty, moving it one step closer to becoming the fifth U.S. state in recent years to abandon capital punishment.

The 86-62 vote followed 10 hours of debate in the Democratic-controlled House and came after last week's Senate vote to abolish the death penalty. The bill now goes to Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, who has vowed to sign it into law.

"The death penalty doesn't bring finality," said Democratic Representative Gerald Fox, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "The cost of the death penalty and the litigation that ensues places a financial burden on the judicial system and the state. We have learned in recent years, we have made mistakes."

Connecticut would join 16 other states and the District of Columbia without capital punishment. Its measure would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole. The repeal applies only to future sentences. The 11 men now on Connecticut's Death Row would still face execution.

But some legal experts have said defense attorneys for current Death Row inmates could use the repeal measure to win life sentences for their clients.

Illinois, New Mexico and New Jersey all voted to abolish the death penalty in recent years, and New York's death penalty law was declared unconstitutional in 2004.

Other state legislatures are considering bills to abolish the death penalty as well, and Oregon's governor has said he would halt all executions on his watch.

"As significant concerns about executing the innocent, the high cost of the death penalty and its unfair application continue to grow, more states are turning to alternative punishments," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

A similar bill was defeated last year in Connecticut, just as the high-profile trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky was getting under way for his role in a 2007 home invasion in which a mother and her two daughters were brutalized and killed.

Komisarjevsky and another man are now on Death Row for the murders. The only survivor of the attack in Cheshire, Connecticut, Dr. William Petit Jr. - the husband of the murdered woman and father of the murdered girls - has spoken out against repeal.

Connecticut has executed only one person, in 2005, since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The executed convict, Michael Ross, had abandoned his appeals.

(Reporting by Mary Ellen Godin; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Peter Cooney)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (4)
shayneedward wrote:
So, in a small town 20 miles away from the small town I grew up in, a predator stalked, raped, and murdered a young lady last Halloween night. He was identified as being the predator during another rape and attempted murder a couple of years ago (DNA evidence). He has an armed robbery arrest. He has a sexual assault arrest. If there is any justice in the world, this man will at the very least get locked up for the rest of his life. However, imho, a proven predator like this has forfeited his right to life, and should be executed. Is it truly more desirable for we, the taxpayers, to foot this man’s food, clothing, and shelter bill for the rest of his life (mid 20′s, so he’ll be around a long time) than it is to execute him with much more mercy than he gave to his victims? Truly? I do not understand.

Apr 12, 2012 1:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
emu wrote:
a) Calling people “predators”, that is, intentionalyl dehumamizing them is a typical brain-crutch to make it easier to mistreat or kill people. In socialism, it was “enemy elements”, I’ve seen how mobbing becomes more aggressive, if people start thinking and talking of other people as “rats” and so on. He’s a person, convicted by a human judicial process.
b) The thing about killing is that it’s irreversable and leaves no room to correct judicial errors. There are enough former death-cell inmates released because during the waiting period reasonable doubts appeared.

As for killing for economic reasons (food, shelter,…), if I were to comment on this, my posting would not pass the moderator.

Lifelong imprisonment without parole is a huge punishment, lasting a lot longer than an execution. And, if it turns out that the judicial system botched the job, there’s a chance to deal with the mistake.

Apr 12, 2012 9:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
shayneedward wrote: defines predator as ”
1. An organism that lives by preying on other organisms.
2. One that victimizes, plunders, or destroys, especially for one’s own gain.”
I think definition 2 applies in the case I listed. Going slightly off topic, do you call unborn children fetuses? Just curious.

The thing about killing is that it is a horrible thing, whether done by an individual person for their gain, by a soldier in a war, or done by society. But sometimes people need killing. In the case I described, the man has tried to kill on more than one occasion that we know about, and has successfully killed on at least one that we know about. The proof is conclusive. The sperm found inside the young lady that was brutally raped and murdered matched that in a previous young lady that was brutally raped and almost murdered, and matched the man that did both crimes. In cases where the evidence is completely conclusive, I favor the death penalty. In cases where it isn’t conclusive the death penalty should not be used.

As to the economic reasons, they are not the reason to kill someone; punishment for the crime committed is the reason to execute the murderer in question. The point that we would have to feed, shelter, and clothe this man for the rest of his days is simply insult added to murder.

Lifelong imprisonment is not a huge enough punishment in some cases.

Apr 12, 2012 11:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.