Apr 23, 2013

Connecticut's High Court To Hear Death Penalty Repeal

Connecticuts HighCourt To Hear Death Penalty Repeal

I knew this was coming when I listened to Susan Storrey in the so called public meeting concerning the Death Penalty repeal in Connecticut over a year ago.

Within a meeting at the capital where each person was supposed to have ten minutes at the most to speak thier mind regarding the death penalty repeal bill,, Ms Storrey, a public official, the states lead public defender, blatantly and rudely ignored the time limit using the meeting as a platform to spout her usual pro-criminal agenda - and not one of the chair persons "overseeing" the meeting, asked her to stop, or insisted her time was up.

In the end Ms Storrey,  was allowed to speak for 28 minutes. Everyone else respected the ten minute time limit.

I watched and listened as the tell-tale bell sounded, that was supposed to signal that the speakers time was "up" and storrey ignored it, clearly believing that like her criminal clients, the rules do not apply. There was limited finite time for the meeting and many many Connecticut citizens who felt strongly about this bill were waiting to speak.

And this meeting was primarily for the public - the citizens of Connecticut  to voice their opinions on a death penalty repeal bill that a recent Quinnnipiac poll proved a 68 percent of Connecticut residents were against it. Most people living in this state wanted the death penalty to remain a prerogative for prosecutors in the worst murder cases.

Ms Storrey as a public official had plenty of official platforms to air her by now well known, and what I  believe to be oft time dangerous- pro-criminal opinions  both regarding the death penalty and a host of other issues and bills concerning violent crime.

I had listened to Storrey opining her rhetoric about violent criminals, murderers and rapists in legislative sessions for years I always found her dour bossy over the top protectiveness of criminals beyond zealous and insulting to victims of crime everywhere.

I was particularly disgusted however when she exceeded the time limit so aggregiously with nary an apology and proceeded to state that although this Repeal bill was supposed to be prospective- meaning anyone convicted of a capital crime or crimes prior to the passage of the repeal would have to make the 20 year ridiculously arduous appeals laden traverse towards an actual death sentence. .

She admitted right then and there that one of the first things she would do when the repeal passed would be to fight the prospective portion of  it with her usual vigor. (The latter my words not hers).

This was amazing to me.

 Not that Storrey already had plans to get rid of this little tiny bit of justice that was left intact within this carefully crafted repeal bill. I expected that. But the fact that she was admitting right up front that one of the first things she planned to do once the bill was passed, was to work on scrapping the tiny part of it that left the littlest piece of justice for the victims of murderers already convicted and sentenced prior to the passage of the Repeal. The victims include the family members loved ones nieghbors and all others traumatized by the crimes.

The so called "prospective" portion of the bill was extremely important to many, many people, albeit as theoretical as it was;  If anyone has any doubts regarding the disingenuosness of the prospective application we now were certain it was merely a political throw, a bone to the people of the state  from the crafters of said bill.

They knew that a without the prospective portion A) the bill might not pass  ie several Republican Legislators actually voted  pro-repeal and the mostly democratic legislators knew there was waffling even among some of their own - particularly due to the slap in the face timing of this Repeal Bill.

The Connecticut Judiciary Committee actually drafted the Repeal within months of the four year long overdue resolution of the Petit family murders, which had finally resulted in the two men who murdered Jennifer Hayley and Michaela Petit to be convicted and given the Death Penalty.

Even the most "liberal" minded legislators had common sense; they knew what the results of the recent Qunnipiac polls were regarding the death penalty repeal. The polls in fact had been taken for years and consistently every time the poll was taken the results were always against repealing against abolition - Thus, if not for at least the notion of a prospective repeal, the outcry would be so enormous that it threatened to topple the bill's passage. Therefore they disingenuously and dishonorably penned in the prospective portion to pacify, and even the Governor gave his official lip service via the media convincingly reiterating that "the repeal would not affect those already on death row".

Now this wasn't by any means exclusively about the horrible Petit family crimes; there were ten men on death row who the state of Connecticut spent millions of dollars on, and a great deal of energy ,affording them due process; these men were given trials with the State absorbing the cost of both their defense and their prosecution.

And after all the necessary mitigating and aggravating factors were weighed in, a jury of their peers had found every one of these men guilty and deserving of the death penalty.  In a state well known to be extremely reluctant to pursue the death penalty in the first place, let alone apply it, this so called prospective application of a repeal was a no brainer and it also was the least the crafters of the bill and its advocates - could do. 

And now here we are.

Ms Storrey  basically promised she'd immediately go to work (with her state financed like minded cronies) to the higher courts to rid the bill of its prospective portion, this, before the repeal was even  passed. Indeed, she added that she would fight for the inmates on death row to be allowed back into the general prison population. because she felt that the nature of death row was " cruel and unusual punishment'

I recall wondering (as I always do in the cases of  those who fight so ardently for the rights of violent criminals, if someone in Ms Storreys immediate family was butchered and/or raped, would she still feel that a isolated area was cruel and unusual for the murderer and/or rapist of her loved ones?

I have gotten a lot of flak for posing this question in the past - and yet it is an essential question. It is not designed to be mean spirited or hostile. I believe in fact that this question must be put to every single public official and or "lawmaker" involved in making and passing bills that cost lives. Our state legislature has seemed to grow increasingly pro-criminal   apathetic at best to the victims of  violent crime.

It is a fair question, not cruel, as a commenter on my blog once declared regarding a post that I wrote concerning the death penalty bill. This was during the period when I had comments enabled on my Blog. Unfortunately, I had to disable all comments when I began to get some really ugly trollers, and the back and forth vitriol threatened to consume the blog. Thus, with regret for all of the intelligent comments, including those who disagreed with me in an respectful fashion, I shut the comments down.

To all of us, the issue of violent crime should be held above all others. But many ask feeling angry and helpless "what can we do?"  

For starters, let us use this, the fact that our state government passed such a misguided and dishonest bill, a bill that most of it's citizens did not want, as a watershed moment to commit or recommit ourselves to the cause of fighting and preventing violent crime.

We can do this separately and together, as participating watchdogs for each-others safety and well being.

And lets use our votes accordingly. Every one of our legislators are voted in by the public. Clearly we need to be more discerning, or more active in the voting process. Every legislative session is televised on Connecticut's cable station. Watch these sessions carefully and listen. Get a feel for your particular legislative Representative  Pay careful attention to how they vote upon important issues involving crime and sentencing.

For those of you who dont know, there is a Connecticut Legislative Website that publishes the vote" roll call" for every bill presented to our State legislature. If your area legislator is soft on crime within their rhetoric and their voting history on crime bills, vote them out. Cross Party lines if, and when necessary. This transcends politics. 

Organize citizen action groups to petition and lobby for tougher laws especially for violent crime and repeat offenders. Fight the ever popular early release programs that threaten public safety. and  stiffer Probation  and Parole for violent offenders.

Connecticut's High Court To Hear Death Penalty Repeal