Sunday, March 07, 2010

Meet the Exonerated: Connecticut Death Row

Connecticut is one of two states in New England to maintain the death penalty. Amongst the 14 death sentences, one execution in 2005, since 1973, and ten individuals (highest percentage who are minorities, 70%) sitting on Connecticut 's death row, no one has been exonerated.

Last year, long-time supporter of capital punishment, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed a bill that would have abolished the death penalty in Connecticut, but with Rell's announcement she will not seek reelection, a change in leadership imminent, State Rep. Michael Lawlor said there could be a shift in the death penalty law. Lawlor said that there is more than enough bipartisan support in both the state's House and Senate to pass another bill to abolish the death penalty and if Rell's successor also supports abolishment, it won't be long before the law is repealed.

Amnesty International released the following statement regarding that decision:

"Governor Rell's veto of this legislation represents a missed opportunity for the state of Connecticut to extricate itself from the useless and costly boondoggle that is capital punishment. Any other policy that wasted valuable taxpayer dollars without reducing crime or making anyone safer would have been eliminated without hesitation.

"No system can be perfected enough to prevent the innocent from being sent to death row. Recent cases have demonstrated the fallibility of Connecticut's justice system. In the last two years James Tillman, who was given 45 years for rape, and Miguel Roman, who was sentenced to 60 years for murder, were found to be have been wrongfully convicted. The exonerations of these innocent men ought to make Governor Rell realize that the irreversible punishment of death has no place in a system that makes such mistakes.''
Currently, Republican legislators are proposing legislation intended to speed up executions. One of the bill’s sponsors concedes that passage is unlikely, but the proposal ensures capital punishment will get a public hearing in the run-up to the 2010 elections for General Assembly.

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