Of the six New England states only New Hampshire and Connecticut have a death penalty within their judicial code. Currently the Connecticut legislature is considering a bill that would remove Connecticut from that list.
Ending the death penalty has long been considered and public opinion has been influenced by criminal events. In the past the murder of police officers motivated the legislature to include that act as being punishable by death. Most recently the triple homicide during a home invasion in Cheshire changed public opinion. In 2005 59% of Connecticut residents supported the death penalty today that number is 68%.
Many residents oppose the death penalty on moral grounds or out of fear that the State may kill an innocent person unjustly accused. For some opponents it is a financial consideration with the high cost of legal appeals continuing for prolonged periods and the continued maintenance of death row incarceration.
Proponents of the death penalty have reacted to sometime vicious and heinous crimes pointing out that society will be better served without the perpetrator. One thing for certain, once executed society is assured the person will never again commit a violation of societal moral code.
Connecticut currently has an appeal process in capital felony cases that in practice has virtually ended State execution as inmates linger within the system for decades with open cases. This must end. It is time for the legislature to step forward and take a stand. We need to either have a death penalty that actually means death or we should abolish the penalty and have life in prison without parole.
Times have changed, we are not the same State that hanged Achsah Young for witchcraft in 1647, today with modern forensic science there is far more reliable evidence upon which to convict. Today there are exemptions from execution so we will not execute a minor like 12 year old Hannah Ocuish for murder as we did in 1786. We no longer use hanging or the electric chair as the final action.
The death penalty has evolved and changed over the last 350 years, society has changed and our views on human life have changed. Handing down a sentence of death that lingers for decades is not justice; it is an avoidance of responsibility by the society it is intended to serve.
If there is to be a death sentence, if the crime is so heinous that the penalty is deemed to be death then the sentence should be served. If we as a society choose to abolish the death penalty then the law will have evolved as a reflection of our current view of justice.
Either way the legislature should be revising the judicial code so that we have a realistic expectation of punishment for those that commit crimes currently covered by our death penalty statutes. To maintain the status quo is not justice served it is a charade for justice due.
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