Connecticut Victim Families Fight for Death Penalty Abolition

February 23, 2012

against the death penalty
(c) Scott Langley

A bill to repeal Connecticut’s death penalty was introduced on Wednesday.  It has an excellent chance of passing, largely because an increasing number of murder victim family members have been calling for an end to capital punishment in their state.  There’s a blog on which many of them discuss their reasons, and this piece in the New London Day and this piece in the West Hartford News both do a good job of outlining why so many murder victim family members have had it with Connecticut’s death penalty and believe they will be better off without it.

There are many reasons victim family members may oppose the death penalty.  There is the endless process that turns the killer into a celebrity while forcing the family to constantly relive the worst moment of their lives.  There is the waste of resources that could be spent on counseling and other real support for survivors of homicide.  And there is the false promise of an execution which will most likely never happen (especially in Connecticut where there has been only one execution in the last 50 years) and may not provide the expected “closure” even if it does.

The Connecticut General Assembly did pass a repeal bill in 2009, only to have it vetoed by then Governor Jodi Rell.  The current Governor, Dannel P. Malloy, supports the measure.  Last year, the bill stalled due to the ongoing high profile murder trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky. This year, at least one legislator who opposed abolition due to that trial has said he is now ready to support repeal.

Of course, not all victim families agree on this (or any) issue, but there is a growing awareness in the Connecticut legislature that getting rid of the death penalty, rather than keeping it, may be what’s best for the families of victims.