Thursday, May 14, 2009

Connecticut House of Reps Votes to Abolish Death Penalty

BREAKING NEWS: Connecticut's House of Representatives voted Wednesday to abolish the state's death penalty and replace it with a life sentence without chance of parole. As many point out, this was four years to the day that serial killer Michael Ross was executed. (Ross was convicted for the murders of four of the eight women he confessed to killing. It took the jury 86 minutes of deliberations to convict him and only four hours to decide on his punishment. He was the first person executed in Connecticut since May 17, 1960, when Joseph "Mad Dog" Taborsky was electrocuted for a spree of slayings.*)

Of course, this doesn't mean the measure will be law. It is sure to see some opposition in the Senate. Coupled with Governor Jodi Rell's support of the death penalty, you may still see a fight.Nevertheless, a 90-56 bipartisan vote suggests that there is hope the measure will become law. Historically, this is rather significant. It is the first time in the history of Connecticut that the State's General Assembly voted to abolish capital punishment. In 2005 we saw the vote go 60-89.

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. With a few recent high profile murders in the state, it should be interesting to see how the general public reacts.

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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