Thursday, April 5, 2012

Connecticut is going to repeal its death penalty.

CNN reports that the Connecticut Senate voted yesterday to repeal the death penalty.  The bill is expected to pass in the Connecticut House of Representatives.  Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has said he will sign the bill if/when it reaches his desk.

If it repeals the death penalty, Connecticut will join New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Illinois among states that have abolished the death penalty in the last five years.  Californians will vote on whether to abolish the death penalty in November. 

Opponents of the death penalty will undoubtedly be cheered by this news.  On the other hand, it isn't like Connecticut is Texas.  Since 1976, the article reports, Connecticut has handed down 15 death sentences and executed one person.  Texas, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, has 299 people on death row today (assuming I counted correctly).  The Department's executions website, indicates Texas has executed 481 people since 1982, including 2 in March.  As an aside, the website I linked to allows you to see the last statements, if any, all 481 people.  They are interesting reading. 

In any event, Connecticut Senate President Donald Williams Jr., called the bill a "vote of conscience."  This question of conscience does not apply to people currently on Connecticut's death row because the bill is prospective.  That is, the death penalty wasn't abolished for anyone in Connecticut who is currently sentenced to death.  This is probably because of the Petit family murders, the horrific murders of three female family members by two men.  Both men are on Connecticut's death row.

There are, of course, arguments on both sides for whether the death penalty should be abolished.  This purpose of this post is not to debate that issue.  Instead, the point of the post is that acts of "conscience" that do not change any one's circumstances are the easiest acts of conscience that one can perform. 

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