Thursday, April 12, 2012

Abolition Now, Abolition Forever

Just waiting on the governor now, and he said he'll sign.
But the Senate voted last week, and the House on Wednesday, and once the governor gets it done, it'll be over.
That's the death penalty and the State of Connecticut.
It's history.
Sort of.  Because there's the great compromise.  Those 11 guys on death row?  Kill 'em.  But from now on . . . .
LWOP, which as I've said before is death in prison.  And a particularly nasty form of LWOP.  Peter Applebome explains for the Times.
The legislation will make life in prison without possibility of parole the state’s harshest punishment. It mandates that those given life without parole be incarcerated separately from other inmates and be limited to two hours a day outside the prison cell.
Lovely.  Here's Governor Malloy.
Going forward, we will have a system that allows us to put these people away for life, in living conditions none of us would want to experience. Let’s throw away the key and have them spend the rest of their natural lives in jail.
And Representative Patricia Widlitz.
I think in many ways, that is a death sentence, with no chance of parole, no chance of doing anything with your life.
So LWOP.  Which is life but also death.
Except for those 11 guys.  They can still be killed.  The proponents of death tried to make an issue of it.  Daniela Altimari in the Hartford Courant, gives an example.
House Republican leader Larry Cafero called the measure "a fraud on the public" because the repeal is prospective and would not apply to the 11 men currently on death row.
"How can you say in your heart and with your vote that it should no longer be the policy of the state of Connecticut to commit anyone to death and yet at the same time say, 'except for these 11 guys?''' Cafero said. "How do you justify that?"
Applebome quoted him, too.
Republican critics of the bill said the exemption for those currently awaiting execution cast a cloud over the vote, both because it undercut the moral argument of death penalty opponents and because future appeals or government action had the potential to spare the 11 men.
“Let’s not mislead the public; let’s not mislead ourselves” said the House minority leader, Lawrence Cafero Jr., of Norwalk. “If it is the will of this chamber that this state is no longer in the business of executing people, then let’s say it and do it. You cannot have it both ways.” 
But of course politics, as Bismarck was apparently the first to say, is "the art of the possible." Altimari again.
Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, one of the most vigorous supporters of the repeal effort, didn't dispute Cafero's view that the prospective part of the bill was born as a compromise. "But the reality is I am in a room with 150 other people and I'm not so young that I believe … I know everything,'' said the New Haven Democrat. "Part of what we do here is, we figure out how do we make things happen."
Holder-Winfield said he favors complete abolition, even for the 11 occupants of death row. But, he said, "If I can't get the state to stop executing people that are already on death row, at least I can stop the state from executing people that may be on death row in the future."
Which is no small thing.  Even with a moral compromise along the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment