Thursday, May 21, 2009

Death Penalty or Deficit Crisis?

The time at the State Capitol is 12:45 AM Friday morning - about thirteen hours after we convened the Senate Session for Thursday. We managed to address several bills on consent earlier today and at 5:30 PM the Democratic majority leadership called H.B. 6578 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR A CAPITAL FELONY!

I am still trying to understand why Senator Williams and Senator Looney decided to spend so much of our precious time remaining in the legislative session debating a bill that is highly likely to face a veto from Governor Rell. In fact, the Governor has publicly stated she supports the death penalty - all but promising a veto. The Democrats don't have the votes to override a veto as many of their members support the death penalty.

The debate is entering the eighth hour and everyone has not spoken. The Senate Republicans have just called the first of twenty-two amendments filed on this bill. If each amendment is called and just thirty minutes is afforded for each one we will see the sunrise over the Capitol and still be debating a bill that is destined for death.

I have struggled with the debate of repealing the death penalty in the Judiciary Committee and the Senate floor. Proponents of repealing the death penalty offered compelling arguments - many questioning the costs of executing a murderer in Connecticut and the ability of the criminal justice system to convict a murderer beyond a reasonable doubt. I will not support repealing the death penalty.

Dr. William Petit and his sister, Johanna Chapman, have shared their views on the death penalty and convinced me. Dr. Petit's wife, Jennifer and daughters, Michaela and Hayley were murdered in a home invasion - a gruesome crime where Dr. Petit escaped the home with his life. Two recent parolees were charged the crimes after police witnessed them leaving the home.

William Petit and Johanna Chapman are carrying the message of their tragedy to the Connecticut General Assembly. Dr. Petit's and Ms. Chapman's testimony to the Judiciary Committee on March 4, 2009 was brave. He said, "If you allow murderers to live you are giving them more regard, more value than three women who never hurt a soul and played by all of society's rules for their short lives. My family got the death penalty and you want to give murderers life - that is NOT JUSTICE. Any penalty less than death for murder is unjust and trivialize the victim and the victim's family. It is immoral and unjust to all of us in our society."

My sentiment EXACTLY!

The Senate Republicans' Deficit Clock tracks the daily and fiscal year-to-date deficit. Three million dollars of red ink for today! That means the Democratic majority of the state legislature is burning up the limited time remaining in this legislative session without substantive deficit mitigation action. We should be talking about the financial crisis in Connecticut - not legislation that is destined for the trash heap.