In 2012, the Democrat majority in the General Assembly abolished Connecticut’s death penalty while leaving the penalty operative for the 11 convicted murderers on death row, thus demolishing all their moral arguments against capital punishment. If the death penalty is cruel, unusual and morally indefensible, would it not be doubly inappropriate for convicted death row inmates?
Hours before the bill was passed, this writer remarked:
“The inevitable passage of the bill will unleash a flood of appeals that will at a minimum further delay the executions of Connecticut’s 11 death row inmates. It is almost certain that at some point in the future a Democratic dominated legislature supported by a Democratic governor, all of whom will have been instrumental in abolishing the death penalty, would be morally derelict in resisting the commutation of the death sentences of the 11 prisoners now awaiting execution on death row. The death penalty having been abolished for prospective criminals who in the future might violate Connecticut’s narrowly circumscribed rarely applied death sentence, no moral justification for the death penalty could withstand a call for the commutation of those awaiting execution authorized by a lapsed and outmoded law.”
No one in Connecticut – not the legislators who voted for the morally and legally defective bill, not the reporters who filed stories concerning the legislation, not the commentators who welcomed the abolition of the death penalty, not the lawyers who argued the case, not the governor who signed the bill – supposed this partial abolition would remain law after the Connecticut’s Supreme Court reviewed a case challenging the justice of the throw-away legislation that would permit the state to execute 11 men in the absence of a law prescribing a penalty that had been abolished.
Naturally, everyone pretended otherwise – and this pretense was entirely political. Mr. Malloy and the Democratic Legislators favoring abolition knew the bill could not pass if the eleven death row inmates had not been exempted. Two mass murderers, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes had only been recently convicted and sentenced to death for having committed in Cheshire a particularly heinous murder. The two recent parolees had invaded a home in Cheshire, pummeled home owner Dr. Petit with a baseball bat, tied two of his young daughters to their beds, forced his wife to draw money from a bank, raped the wife and one of the daughters and then set fire to the house, murdering all inside but the doctor, who managed to escape and alert police. Theirs was just the sort of crime that merited a death penalty.
Following abolition, another heinous crime occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. A heavily armed gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 20 children and 7 staff members. The shooter committed suicide. Had he been taken alive, Connecticut could not have executed him, because the General Assembly had already prospectively abolished capital punishment, while leaving the 11 convicted murderers on death row to face their cruel and unusual fates.
The Connecticut Supreme Court has now come to the rescue, relieving abolitionist Democrats of their awful political burden. Serving on the court isa Justice newly appointed by Mr. Malloy who ought to have recused himself from any decision concerning the death penalty. Co-chair of the judiciary committee along with then Senator Michael Lawlor, Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald led the fight in the legislature to repeal the death penalty. Mr. Lawlor, later appointed by Mr. Malloy as his penology guru, has produced a program that assigns get-out-of-jail-early credits to rapists and arsonists. Both Mr. Malloy and Mr. Lawlor are former repentant prosecutors. Before assuming his position on Connecticut highly politicized Supreme Court, Mr. McDonald was a lawyer in a General Assembly over-weighed with lawyers. Mr. Lawlor and Mr. McDonald were responsible for producing legislation, tucked into the usual end-of-session implementer bill, that would have abolished the apostolic structure of the Catholic Church, and both were responsible for striking down a “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” bill supported by former Governor Jodi Rell.
After the Supreme Court’s abolition decision was rendered, Mr. Malloy, retreating to a default position in which he publicly wiped every tear from every eye, gave a slap on the back to compassion – and himself.
“Today,” Mr. Malloy said, “is a somber day where our focus should not be on the 11 men sitting on death row, but with their victims and those surviving families members. My thoughts and prayers are with them during what must be a difficult day.”
A difficult day – just a day, after which Mr. Malloy may shelve his concern. One supposes the families of the victims murdered by the death row eleven will have little time for Mr. Malloy’s politically obligatory bosh and his dollop of compassion. One supposes they would rather have a death penalty than Mr. Malloy’s prayers – not for themselves of course, but for future victims subject to heinous acts of murderous intent.