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With Death Penalty, Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

An opponent of the death penalty explains why he believes it should be repealed in Connecticut.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ken April 12, 2012 at 03:35 PM
This doesn't make any sense. You don't ask the victim or family of a victim weather potential forms of punishment are a deterrent, you ask the criminal or potential criminal.....Victims just want to see criminal punished.
Doug April 13, 2012 at 02:31 PM
What was ment Is Dr Petit has been present not only at all the legal hearings involving his family but has been active in talking to leaders about the death penalty. In the case of the home invasion there were arguments for life in prison vs. death by one of the accused, this tells me that the guilty party wanted to live. I would believe that there are more quallified people out there then you or I (or to your point Dr Petit) that should be asked if the death penalty is a deterrent. Right now it seems that our representives ignore us and just go by their (possibly uninformed) decision.
Ken April 13, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Yes, there are more qualified people to study and determine weather the death penalty is really a crime deterrent, and the general consensus is that it is NOT. I might point you to a 2009 study in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. I could also point you to do some math for yourself, find the the number of murders in an area, say the south, and compare them to the number of murders is another area, say the northeast. Use per capita numbers of course so the data is scaled by the population. Then compare the numbers of executions in those areas. You'll easily find that despite carrying out a significant larger number of executions (like 300 times more executions per capita), they still have a higher instance of murder. So there is strong evidence that execution is NOT a crime deterrent. Add on top of this the moral debate, and add on top of that the fallibility of the judicial system and I do not see how anyone can justify executions. People are generally driven by emotion, not reason, and its a good thing in this case that our state government is taking the decision out of our hands!
Doug April 13, 2012 at 06:52 PM
You can statistically say the execution rate in the south is 300 more times that of the northeast and the murder rate still remains higher. With such a high rate it's made to sound like the south can barely keep up with its death row population. Statistically then your arguing that if even more were put to death the murder rate would go even higher? Would this rate be exponential if the execution rate was 10 per month? Capitol punishment is rare and is used in the most heinous crimes as aparently some of us feel it should continue to be. I personally would find it difficult to decide who should die but through a court of law with the ability to show overwelming evidence there is that ocasional criminal that warrents this decision. As for our state government taking decisions out of our hands, be carefull what you wish for.
Ken April 13, 2012 at 07:59 PM
First, you misunderstand the numbers, yes, murder rates are actually low, and execution rates are very low. But remember, 300 times a small number is still a small number. And no, I am not arguing that if you execute more people the murder rate will go up, but if criminals were really worried about the punishment, the murder rate in states with capital punishment should be lower!! Now it appears your changing your argument from "capital punishment is a crime deterrent" to "the punishment must fit the crime"....Sounds like the old eye-for-an-eye argument.... Even I will admit, that if something tragic like that happened to my family, I would want to criminals executed, in fact, I would probably desire to do it myself! I would be completely hypocritical, that is why the opinion of the victim should not be taken into account, and its why I believe most people don't think more logically about the issue. If you put yourself in the position of the victim, you will want "revenge", and you will support capital punishment....

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