Friday, May 22, 2009

After Eleven Hour Debate, CT Senate Votes to Abolish Death Penalty

The Connecticut State Senate has voted to abolish the state's death penalty opting for life in prison without the possibility of parole. It was a late night for the Senate. According to the Associated Press, after eleven hours of discussion, the vote was 19-17 in favor of abolishing the death penalty. This marks the first time the General Assembly has passed such legislation "A lot has changed in America. A lot has changed in Connecticut," said Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn. It will be interesting to see what happens to the bill when it lands on the desk of Governor Rell. In the past, she has stated she believes in capital punishment. Rell has about ten days to make her momentous decision. Republicans who supported the penalty seemed to draw out the argument after midnight. The group proposed a variety of amendments (approximately 25) that included exempting killers whose victims were police, children or pregnant women. Democrats viewed this as a filibustering delay tactic that included graphic details of past murders. Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, referred to the actions as the "tyranny of the minority." So what happens to the ten guys on Connecticut's death row? No luck for them. The legislation would not retroactively affect their cases. With recent heinous murders in Connecticut including the tragic home invasion murder of the Petit family, it will be interesting to see how the state reacts. New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007 followed by New Mexico this year. Some info from an earlier nutmeg post:

Connecticut's death row is located in Somers with about ten people. The method of execution is injection. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 1160 have been executed in the United States as of May 2009. Connecticut has executed one prisoner since that time.

Some statistics courtesy of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney* where you can find everything from crimes committed to last meals. I was surprised that some states still used firing squads and hangings.

  • Of those executed, 11 were female. (The last was Frances Elaine Newton in Texas on September 14, 2005).
  • Of those executed, 22 were under the age of 18 at the time of the murder. (The last was Scott Allen Hain in Oklahoma on April 3, 2003).
  • Of those executed, 656 (57%) were white and 397 (34%) were black.
  • Of those executed: 991 (85%) were executed by lethal injection, including 513 of the last 521 executions.
  • 155 were executed by electric chair (The last was James Earl Reed in South Carolina on June 20, 2008).
  • 11 were executed by gas chamber (The last was Walter LeGrand in Arizona on March 3, 1999). 3 were executed by hanging (The last was Billy Bailey in Delaware on January 25, 1996). 2 were executed by firing squad (The last was John Albert Taylor in Utah on January 27, 1996).

Executions were held in 34 different states: 437 (37%) were in Texas and 19 were in Indiana.

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