In the last 75 years, the state of Connecticut has executed nineteen people using the death penalty. The upcoming legislation, HR 280, would officially repeal the death penalty in our state. With over 200 people in attendance, it's clear the people of Connecticut are ready for repealing the capital punishment.
There was a powerful hearing from victims' family members on why the death penalty harms them. In fact, a whopping 179 family members have signed onto a letter asking for repeal.
Having the death penalty and our notion that we only reserve it for the "worst of the worst" cases really hurts the victims’ families because the vast majority of them are left with the impression that their loved one's death "wasn't bad enough". The recent report by Stanford law Professor John Donohue shows that in addition to being hurtful, this statement isn't empirically true -- it's not the most egregious offenders that are sentenced to death in Connecticut, but rather class and geography are the biggest factors.
The death penalty process is cruel to victims' families. The trials are much longer and more publicized and then, if the defendant is sentenced to death, he is forced to endure a practically endless wait for an execution. The death penalty is not just an issue in Connecticut, or even the United States. The European Union member-states have stopped using the death penalty as a punishment. And, on November 15th, 2007, the United Nations’ General Assembly backed a universal resolution against the death penalty. According to the UN News Centre, “The Assembly’s third committee, which deals with human rights issues, voted 99 to 52, with 33 abstentions, in favour of the resolution, which states ‘that there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty’s deterrent value and that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the death penalty’s implementation is irreversible and irreparable.’”
There are a lot of needs victims' families currently have that would be a better investment than the $4 - 7 million we spend annually on the death penalty. The speakers mentioned many factors for how this money could be better spent, including the underfunded forensics labs in Connecticut. Counseling sessions for murder victims' families would be more worthy of such funding, rather than using tax dollars to execute people.
Last month, on March 7th, a proponent of Connecticut’s death penalty, Sacred Heart University Professor Chris DeSanctis, shared his views in a piece titled “Executing murderers saves innocent lives” in the New Haven Register. That does not make sense; killing people may save individual citizens lives, but the chances are higher for losing innocent citizens sentenced to death row, which is more common than expected. For example, with the Troy Anthony Davis case in Georgia.
Murder can never be justified, whether it is an incidental car crash or a sickening, and extensive, act of killing. It is tough, as repealing the death penalty does not provide for any exceptions to keep it. Many would support keeping the convicted men from the horrid Petit home invasion case on death row but, truth is, they would simply sit there for many years, wasting our tax dollars on appeals and general prison expenses. We must end the death penalty in Connecticut for the murder victims’ families, for the morality of society, and for the general common good of our state and country. Killing people? We, as citizens, are above that, and should not sink down to the level of all those evil killers. Instead, we must rise up, out of the despair and dismay, repeal the death penalty, and work on a better track for punishment in Connecticut.