Connecticut Is Wrong To Veto Death Penalty Abolition Bill

June 5, 2009

I am extremely disappointed that Governor M. Jodi Rell today vetoed HB 6578, which would have abolished the death penalty in Connecticut.

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.

This veto puts Connecticut squarely on the wrong side of history. The use of the death penalty is dropping in every state of the union, as juries pass fewer death sentences and state legislatures impose greater restrictions. Some, such as New Mexico, repeal capital punishment altogether.  An average of three countries end the use of the death penalty each year, and today more than two-thirds of nations worldwide have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

The death penalty is increasingly being acknowledged as a severe violation of human rights.  While, as the governor has argued, heinous crimes have been committed in Connecticut, the deliberate killing of a human being is never an appropriate punishment for any crime.  It is inevitable that the world will eventually outlaw this cruel practice, and it is a shame that Connecticut will not pave the way to make that happen.