Conn. death penalty repeal appears in doubt

Started by Jeff1857, April 12, 2008, 02:57:42 AM

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April 12, 2008, 02:57:42 AM Last Edit: May 25, 2011, 09:05:57 PM by Granny B
Lawyer Presses For Death Row Inmates' Rights

Death row inmates claim they are being denied access to group religious services, group recreation, use of gym equipment and visits with friends and family, amounting to a violation of their constitutional rights, according to a letter sent to the Department of Correction on Thursday from an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer.

Additionally, the men say they are also denied the chance to send photographs of themselves to loved ones, as other inmates are allowed, or to walk unshackled during certain times, including to and from the shower, as are other inmates who are in the highest risk level.

The death row inmates are housed at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers.

Such conditions prompted the inmates to go on a hunger strike last May. "Officials have both verbally and in writing promised to secure certain privileges for the death row inmates in exchange for the cessation of the most recent hunger strike," wrote the lawyer, David McGuire. "A number of these promises have not been fulfilled."

Brian Garnett, Department of Correction spokesman, said he could not comment on the letter because he had not seen it. Garnett and department Commissioner Theresa Lantz attended a legislative hearing Thursday at the state Capitol on prison overcrowding that lasted more than 6 hours as of early evening.

A death row inmate was involved in a recent assault on a correction officer. On Feb. 14, Lazale Ashby, who was recently sentenced to death for raping and murdering a Hartford woman, struck a correction officer, according to correction officials.

While McGuire's letter does not address the Ashby incident directly, he said it is unreasonable for the department to punish all inmates for the bad acts of one. "Like any body of inmates, one should not be punished for the acts of another," he said, adding that the denial of the inmates' rights dates from before Ashby was sentenced to death row.

McGuire argues that it is unreasonable for the department to limit the inmates' privileges because of a 1998 suicide attempt by Michael Ross, who was executed in 2004, or because of a letter by inmate Daniel Webb plotting an escape attempt.

Both group recreation and the opportunity to eat in a common room with other death row inmates were revoked in 1998, according to the letter.

In addition to being denied religious services, inmates claim they were also told they could spend time once a week with a pastor, but those visits have not consistently been provided them, according to the letter. When the pastor is available, the inmates are denied face-to-face meetings and are forced to talk to him through their steel cell doors.

"It cannot be asserted that safety concerns justify the denial of access because religious service is provided sporadically, and without relation to inmate behavior," the letter states.
Here goes the ACLU agian.  :D. Ashby just got on DR not that long ago less than a couple of months I think and he's assaulting guards already. Maybe they need to fill his lungs with pepper spray til they explode.  ;D. Oops did I say that?  ;)


some shi##y news

HARTFORD, Conn., May 14 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives in Connecticut voted 90-56 to abolish the death penalty, officials said.

The Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported that to successfully abolish the death penalty at least 76 members of the 151-member House needed to support the proposal.

Previous attempts to do away with the death penalty had fallen short of the needed number of votes. This time it carried with support from eighty-five Democrats and five Republicans.

The House vote leaves the 10 men now on death row in Connecticut facing a possible life sentence without the possibility of release, the Courant said.

New York, New Jersey and New Mexico all abolished the death penalty during the past five years. Overall, 35 states still have a death penalty.


Im wondering at the moment whatll happen if one of the inmates wants to be executed? theoreticaly he has the right to be executed.  ???

Anyway.. bad news.

Im not sure if theres a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.


Not really. The bill moves up and the female governor of CT is on record as being very PRO.
I would be shocked if it got all the way through.  ;)


Thanks for the good news Jeff.

But Im still wondering if someone can be commuted to LWOP against his will.  :-X

Im not sure if theres a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.


Thanks for the good news Jeff.

But Im still wondering if someone can be commuted to LWOP against his will.  :-X


Hmmmm... that is a good question. The only time we've seen that happen was when an outgoing governor of New Mexico, named Toney Anaya, issued a blanket commutation of all death row inmates in his state on his last day in office, reducing their sentences to life in prison without parole.

The same thing happened when New Jersey repealed the death penalty. Gov. Jon Corzine signed a blanket order commuting all death sentences to life in prison without parole the day before he signed the legislation to abolish the death penalty.

So, to answer your question, the answer would likely be no in a general sense; except for when in cases like these when the death penalty is in the process of being repealed by a particular jurisdiction.


.Hamzy: Death penalty removal an injustice to Petits

When the state House of Representatives voted Wednesday to abolish the death penalty, it voted to deny justice to victims who died horribly and painfully at the hands of especially vicious and depraved murderers, state Rep. William A. Hamzy said Thursday in a press release.

"There are some murders that are so cruel, vicious and depraved that the only appropriate punishment is the death penalty," said Hamzy, R-78th District. "If this measure becomes law, it will mean the two career criminals who are on trial for the 2007 home invasion murders in Cheshire will not face the death penalty if they are found guilty. Dr. William Petit of Cheshire lost his wife and two daughters in the home invasion and barely escaped with his own life."

"If the two accused murderers are found guilty and the bill that passed the House Wednesday goes on the books, it will mean the toughest penalty they will face will be life in prison without the possibility of release," Hamzy said. "Given the enormity of the crime, any punishment other than the death penalty fails to balance the scales of justice. While life in prison is certainly not pleasant, it is clearly preferable to dying horribly and painfully in a fire after being terrorized, raped and brutalized, as some members of Dr. Petit's family were.

"Will imposition of the death penalty bring back Dr. Petit's wife and daughters? No it would not. But it would be proportional to the wrong done to three innocent people. The punishment would fit the crime. It would ensure that justice is meted out appropriately," the Plymouth Republican said.
Im not sure if theres a hell, but I believe in executed murderers.


Senate votes to abolish death penalty

Hartford -- The Connecticut Senate voted to abolish the death penalty early Friday morning after a marathon debate, narrowly approving a bill that would make life imprisonment without possibility of release the state's highest criminal punishment.

The Senate approved the death penalty bill, 19-17, shortly after 4 a.m., after nearly 11 hours of debate. The same measure had previously passed in the House of Representatives, and proceeds to Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who has appeared likely to veto the bill.

If signed into law, the bill would make Connecticut the 16th American state without an active death penalty statute.

"Today's there been a shift - history has been made in the state legislature," said Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn.

But before that history could happen, partisan acrimony virtually derailed the workings of the chamber, as the death penalty bill ran head-on into a deliberate slow-down effort by the Senate's 12-member Republican minority, prompted by the minority party's anger at the management of business in the Senate.

Republicans filed 26 amendments on the bill, eventually calling five, and finally withdrew their remaining amendments from consideration after securing an agreement from Williams not to force a debate on reform of the state probate courts even later into Friday morning.

After the vote, Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, the bill's chief proponent and the co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, sounded tired but jubilant.

"This was a historic day for our chamber and for our state," McDonald said. "I would encourage the governor to take some time and reflect on the magnitude of what the people's chambers have said today, and to consider anew the continued viability or utility of the death penalty in a civilized society."

The bill, already passed with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives last week, faced a far stiffer challenge in the Senate, and now from Rell, a Republican who supports capital punishment.

Even as debate on the bill began at 5:23 p.m., those counting votes were less than certain that supporters could gather the 19 votes needed for passage.

Their work was just beginning. The first amendment to the bill wasn't called until well after midnight, at which point the senators had already engaged in a lengthy and emotional debate on the propriety and efficacy of the death penalty as a public safety measure, corrective to wrongdoers, retribution on behalf of survivors and solace to the aggrieved.

Supporters of abolition argued that the death penalty is ultimately "unworkable," because the appeals afforded to condemned inmates in order to comply with the state and U.S. Constitutions inevitably draw out the post-sentencing period for years and even decades, prolonging agony for the survivors of their victims.

And, they argued, the most severe punishment was not that levied on the 10 men on Connecticut's death row, but that issued to 46 other individuals also convicted of brutal murders in Connecticut: Life imprisonment with no chance of ever being released.

"You don't know their names," said McDonald. "They have been put into prison and told, 'That is where you will die.' The names we know are those who still demand our attention because they are under a sentence of death."

Connecticut has put just one prisoner to death in the last 48 years: serial killer Michael Ross, who was executed in 2005, only after he had dropped his appeals and asked to receive his death sentence.

Ross' was the first execution in Connecticut since that of Joseph Taborsky in 1961, and the first in New England in generations. Connecticut and New Hampshire are the only two states remaining in New England with a death-penalty statute; New Hampshire has no prisoners on death row.

"Death in many instances is too kind a penalty for some of these defendants," McDonald said. "In my opinion, it is a harsher punishment to sentence an individual to life in prison without possibility of release. To know that every day when you wake up you will still be in an 8-by-10 (foot) cell. You will still not have direct sunlight in your life. You will still have the obligation to consider the harm and pain that you have inflicted on your victims."

But the bill is bitterly opposed by many others in the legislature who insist that execution is the only proper response to crimes like those for which Connecticut's death row convicts have been sentenced to die.

Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, the Judiciary Committee's ranking member, took issue with the argument that life imprisonment could replace execution as an equally severe punishment, with a hypothetical example of a deranged gunman charging into the Senate chamber and ordering senators to choose one or the other.

"I don't know anybody choosing death," Kissel said. "Why's that? Because life without possibility of release affords at least a hair's breadth of an opportunity to get free. To be released. To be pardoned. And indeed, part of the argument in opposition to this bill is the notion that this is just a first step along a path of leniency. Because if our state legislature can throw out the death penalty and impose life without possibility of release, then what's next?"

People relieved to hear that a killer has died after committing crimes are not "happy because there's a blood lust," Kissel said later. "It's not they're happy because they're sort of mean or horrible people, or conservative. No, no, no. They're happy because in their heart of hearts, the threat is gone. That's the end of that crazy person. That threat is over."

And Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, read one by one on the Senate floor the capsule descriptions of the crimes committed by Connecticut's 10 death row inmates.

Of the rape and murder committed by Cedric Cobb, who abducted his young victim from a department store parking garage, McLachlan exclaimed, "This one makes me want to cry."

Meanwhile, Rell reiterated her support for the death penalty Thursday, increasing the likelihood of a veto, which supporters do not have the votes to override.

"You know how I feel about the death penalty," the governor said. "I've always believed there are some crimes that are so heinous it deserves the death penalty."

Hours into the debate, well after 1:30 a.m., Kissel spoke in favor of one of the Republican amendments, which would have established a carve-out to allow executions in the event of a murder of a police officer. The senator defended the very limbo and years of appeals that supporters invoke in calling for the elimination of the statute.

The state's worst killers, he exclaimed, should be told to "sit there, with a sword of Damocles over your head every day, until Connecticut finally gets its act together and you go and get lethal injection. And if it's 10 or 20 years, tough luck."

The extensive Republican commentary on that amendment brought a fiery rejoinder, however, from Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, who noted that her uncle had been taken prisoner while serving as a guard in a jail - not "good enough to be taken into consideration in this amendment," Daily noted - when he was briefly taken prisoner. The senator's sister who served in the Drug Enforcement Administration was shot at, and hit by a truck in the course of a raid.

In each instance, Daily said, her elders instructed her to pray for the culprits, not seek retribution.

"In my family, the people who go into law enforcement were not about to go into the business of killing people," Daily said. "And I'm not about to either."

A little more than a week after an intensely personal debate in the House, which eventually voted 90-56 for abolition, many senators reflected changing opinions on the issue.

Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, supported the 1995 law that strove to make, at the urging of then-Gov. John G. Rowland, a more "workable" death penalty. But 14 years later, with what Stillman said was considerable constituent support for repeal and her own misgivings about the impossibility of ensuring no innocent could be put to death, she said Thursday she would vote to eliminate the penalty.

Meanwhile, Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, told colleagues she had gone from a supporter of the death penalty to an opponent, and now was wavering over whether to support it again at the thought that inmates sentenced to life without possibility of release might be able to move about and socialize with other inmates.

But after assurances, Prague was leaning back toward opposition again, invoking the case of James Tillman, who was wrongly convicted in 1989 of sexual assault, kidnapping and other charges, eventually serving more than 16 years in prison.

"My sense is that our justice system makes mistakes," Prague said. "And to sentence people to death is not a mistake you can undo."

Prague eventually voted Yes.

Sen. Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington, is another former supporter of the death penalty who now opposes it, despite what he described as empathy for those who feel a desire for vengeance after the murder of a loved one, but said he believed the process of seeking execution played into the narcissistic desires of some killers, like Ross, to dominate the public's attention.

"I want, frankly, to forget about them," Maynard said. "I don't want them to be put on the front page of newspapers, to be celebrities. They have done horrible things, and they should be taken out of society."

But, Maynard said, he had come to see the willingness to put killers to death as "coarsening the public's attitude toward the value of human life."


Existing crime of capital felony is retitled "murder with special circumstances."

Maximum penalty of death is eliminated, leaving highest sentence of life imprisonment with no possibility of release.

Effective upon passage and prospectively; does not commute death sentences of existing death row inmates.
Daily, Westbrook: YES
Maynard, Stonington: YES
Prague, Columbia: YES
Stillman, Waterford: YES



"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." Albert Einstein


Don't panic.  The Governor, M. Jodi Rell, is a death penalty supporter and has pledged to veto the Bill.  The death penalty will remain in Connecticut.
JT's Ridiculous Quote of the Century:
"I'm disgusted with the State for even putting me in this position."
-- Reginald Blanton, Texas death row.  As of October 27, 2009, Reggie's position has been in a coffin.


May 26, 2009, 05:06:30 PM Last Edit: June 10, 2009, 09:08:50 PM by Jacques

Don't panic.  The Governor, M. Jodi Rell, is a death penalty supporter and has pledged to veto the Bill.  The death penalty will remain in Connecticut.

She is a very good friend from Perry I know (insider)



"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." Albert Einstein


Conn. gov. vetoes measure to end death penalty  :-\
Connecticut's governor has vetoed legislation that would have abolished the death penalty.

Gov. Jodi Rell says the state cannot tolerate people who commit the most violent of murders.

The Republican had expressed her opposition to the measure all along and issued her promised veto Friday.

Supporters in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly have said they do not have the necessary two-thirds majority of votes to override her veto. The bill, which would have replaced capital punishment with life in prison, passed 19-17 in the Senate and 90-56 in the House last month.

Connecticut has 10 death row inmates. It has executed one inmate since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to reinstate capital punishment in 1976.



"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself." Albert Einstein


how long has it been since they have had a X? And any of the 10 out of appeals? just curious
Justice is not about bringing back the dead. It is not about revenge either. Justice is about enforcing consequences for one's own actions to endorse personal responsibility. We cannot expect anyone to take responsibility for their own actions if these consequences are not enforced in full.


how long has it been since they have had a X? And any of the 10 out of appeals? just curious

Michael Bruce Ross.  May 13, 2005.

Connecticut has 10 death row inmates; four or five, I think, of their inmates are in the federal system (and hence the death penalty-inexperienced Second Circuit), while the others are still sitting around in the state system.


A renewed push to end the death penalty in Connecticut

Emboldened by a series of victories in the legislature earlier this year, a coalition of groups is launching a new campaign against the death penalty in Connecticut.

The coalition, which includes religious organizations and civil rights groups, will kick off its campaign with a rally at the Capitol on Sept. 24.

"We are a diverse coalition of civic organizations, faith communities, and advocacy groups that have come together to achieve our shared goal of abolishing the death penalty in Connecticut,'' Ben Jones, executive director of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty, said in a statement heralding the effort. "We represent a variety of perspectives. For some, the death penalty violates deeply held religious beliefs or personal moral codes. Some see the practice of state-sponsored execution as a deprivation of human rights. Others believe it cannot be justified as a public policy because it is costly, an ineffective deterrent, discriminatorily applied, and often puts victims' families through additional pain. Whatever our point of view, we all agree that it clearly fails society."

The coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the Connecticut Catholic Conference, the NAACP and the United Church of Christ.

In May, the state House of Representatives approved a bill abolishing capital punishment by a 90-56 vote and the Senate followed suit a few days later, passing the bill by a 19-17 vote. But in June, Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the measure.

(source: Hartford Courant)
JT's Ridiculous Quote of the Century:
"I'm disgusted with the State for even putting me in this position."
-- Reginald Blanton, Texas death row.  As of October 27, 2009, Reggie's position has been in a coffin.


Well Done Gov Rell
Justice is not about bringing back the dead. It is not about revenge either. Justice is about enforcing consequences for one's own actions to endorse personal responsibility. We cannot expect anyone to take responsibility for their own actions if these consequences are not enforced in full.

heidi salazar

Gubernatorial election could decide fate of death penalty

Efforts by the Connecticut General Assembly to have the death penalty abolished in 2008 and 2009 hit a wall when Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the bill but with Rell's announcement she will not seek reelection, a change in leadership imminent and State Rep. Michael Lawlor said there could be a shift in the law.

Lawlor said Friday 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.

"There have been many cases over the years in which the death penalty was discussed, but short of someone actually telling the court they want to die, it's largely been an ineffective law," said Lawlor, D-East Haven, chairman of House Judiciary Committee.

With the jury selection starting in January for Steven Hayes, who along with suspect Joshua Komisarjevsky is facing the death penalty in a 2007 Cheshire home invasion in which police said the two killed Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters Hayley and Michaela Petit, the law has been a point of discussion in the general assembly again in 2010.

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