Connecticut Clings To State Killing. Barely.

Posted on Thursday, 12th May 2011 @ 07:54 AM by Text Size A | A | A

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State killing, the death penalty, isn’t the product of rational thought. Never has been. It’s about raw emotions, and chief among those are anger and revenge.  To no one’s surprise, despite virtually worldwide condemnation of state killing, when it comes to killing killers to show other potential killers that killing is wrong, politicians’ lack of principle is breathtaking.  And all too common.  So the news from Connecticut this afternoon isn’t a surprise.  No.  It’s just another example of the barbarian illogic that keeps states in the killing business.
<a href=”″>The Day</a> reports:
<blockquote>Proponents of capital punishment were declaring victory this afternoon after two state senators from southeastern Connecticut abruptly changed their minds about supporting a death penalty repeal bill.
State Sens. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, and Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington, said they initially planned to vote for the repeal if it came up, but no longer intend to. The bill, which passed through the Judiciary Committee last month, would end the death penalty in Connecticut <b>for future murders.</b>
Several legislators said today that without the two senators’ votes, they didn’t expect the bill to pass the Senate.
For both Prague and Maynard, the deciding factor was a meeting late last week with Dr. William Petit, whose wife and two daughters were brutally murdered in a 2007 Cheshire home invasion. Petit is in favor of the death penalty.
“I just feel that if there is anything I could do to help this man at all, I’ve got to do it,” Prague said, adding that it’s unusual for her to flip her vote. “I don’t think I’ve ever changed my mind on something that I had made up my mind to vote for.”
Steven Hayes was sentenced to death last year for the Petit murders. The trial of the second accused killer, Joshua Komisarjevsky, starts in September.</blockquote>
Please pause and look at that.  The bill would prevent the state from executing for murders convicted in the future.  The bill would have no affect at all, none, on murders committed before its passage, and it would have absolutely no affect on the state’s plans to execute Steven Hayes or, should be be convicted, Joshua Komisarjevsky.  The proposed law would have no affect on these cases. None.
So what does the learned legislator mean when she says, “I just feel that if there is anything I could do to help this man at all, I’ve got to do it.”  How, inquiring minds would like to comprehend, does leaving the door open so that the state can execute for murders that have not yet been committed “help” Dr. Petit?  It doesn’t bring back his loved ones.  It doesn’t help him get vengeance for the crime committed against his family.  That he will unfortunately get soon enough.  It doesn’t get him closure (if anything can do that).  In point of fact, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Dr. Petit, whose family was brutally slain, and with the state’s obvious intention to execute the two people who it is alleged committed those crimes.
How does Dr. Petit’s understandable loss, anger, and grief add up to continuing state killing in Connecticut? If you think about it rationally, the victim, the person who has suffered the huge loss of his family, is the last person who should decide what the state’s response to murder should be.  Ceding that decision to that person’s impulses leads to public revenge killings in football stadiums, as if Connecticut were Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban.
And how does Senator Maynard explain his sudden change of opinion?
<blockquote>“We don’t think the timing is particularly good for Dr. Petit and what he’s going through,” Maynard said. “I won’t vote for a repeal and I hope we don’t actually call it up for a vote this year.”</blockquote>
What?  The timing?  In other words, Dr. Petit’s justified grief and anger require that no law be passed concerning the punishment for future crimes, because one of the alleged murderers of the Petit family has not yet been convicted.  But, you say, the bill doesn’t affect those cases.  Well, yes, but never mind that.  Because Dr. Petit cannot move on from his loss, everyone in the State of Connecticut should also be frozen in amber.
If the best we can do for Dr. Petit and the thousands of other people who have lost family members to murder is to keep on killing convicted murderers, we’ve got a real problem in the US.  Killing these people helps no one.  It’s a travesty that we continue to argue that it does.

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