Each of us has an opinion on the death penalty, you may support it or oppose it, and for some it is a complex issue for others it is rather easy. The Connecticut General Assembly has already made the decision and Governor Malloy has endorsed their decision with his signature. Now there are questions filed for judicial action about the new law. We have abolished the penalty but the question remains did we do it based on societal values or political expedience?
The death penalty is a deeply moral question with committed and sincere individuals on both sides. It is not the issue of the death penalty but the thought process of elected officials that will be looked at here.
Connecticut has had a death penalty on the books for decades; it has proven to be a cumbersome, complicated, legal maze that does not readily result in any death. Those convicted under that statue have found that it was more a penalty on paper than a penalty in practice.
The Connecticut General Assembly could have reviewed the statue and revised it but instead chose to eliminate the death penalty as an option for judges to consider. Looking at their reasoning and actions shows a basic weakness in logical thinking and a lack of bravery or core belief.
In 2011 the issue came before the General Assembly and the votes could not be found to eliminate the death penalty. At the time the Cheshire home invasion trial was a key factor and public sentiment was strongly in favor of the death penalty. One legislator spoke out rather harshly with personal feelings as to the punishment that should be dealt in the case.
That same legislator said she could not support abolishing the death penalty largely because of that case. Then in 2012 the same legislator voted in favor of abolishing the penalty when an exception was included for those already convicted.
The logic here is this, if you are already convicted and your actions were so egregious that you should be put to death your mistake was in timing. If you waited another year and did the exact same crime, we as a society will now not consider the act so egregious and will not consider a death penalty sentence.
It is too bad that so many legislators have become so weak in character that making a tough moral decision is not based on core values and fundamental belief but rather on political expedience. Too often we find equivocation on an issue in an effort to be all things to all people. We accept appeasement rather than a solid position based on moral values.
Former President John F. Kennedy, in his book Profile In Courage highlighted individuals that stood up for and vocally spoke on issues that in their minds was the right thing to do even if it would not enhance their political careers. They were brave leaders; they were role models for what legislators should be doing.
The death penalty is only one of many extreme moral issues of our day. We will not all agree on a single position on any issue. We have the right to disagree and speak in a democracy it is part of the fabric of our freedom as a nation.
Good legislators have strong moral character used for the betterment of society. In this case it is not the endorsement or abolishment of the death penalty it is the process and thought that lead to the decision that shines a light into the darkness of character found in our legislature.