Good news from Connecticut, where the state legislature has voted to repeal the death penalty in that state. Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, is expected to sign the repeal next week.
While Connecticut is the fifth state in as many years to repeal the use of capital punishment, opponents of the death penalty say there is still much work to do. From the New York Times:
“It’s definitely part of a larger trend, certainly with other states including New Jersey, New Mexico and Illinois abolishing executions through similar processes, and with a decline in executions around the country,” Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a national research group critical of the death penalty, said Thursday. “There’s less public support. So the trends are in the same direction.”
But even staunch death penalty opponents acknowledge that the vote was not indicative of a nationwide about-face. Rather, it was a reflection of capital punishment’s erosion in the Northeast, a trend toward fewer executions nationally and the intensification of the death penalty’s status as a phenomenon overwhelmingly rooted in the South.
The number of executions nationally dropped to 43 last year from 98 in 1998. Since executions resumed in 1976 after being halted by the Supreme Court, there have been 1,060 in the South, 150 in the Midwest, 75 in the West and 4 in the Northeast.
During that time, Connecticut had one execution, Michael Bruce Ross, a serial killer who was put to death in 2005.
So the death penalty is largely being abolished where it is not being imposed and remains largely untouched where it is. And the death penalty map is beginning to resemble the familiar red state-blue state one.
US Catholic Bishops are clear in their opposition to the death penalty, echoing the words of Pope John Paul II: "The dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform."
Michael J. O'Loughlin