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A Death Sentence in Connecticut

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A second jury has unanimously reimposed the death penalty on a man who murdered three people, including 9-year-old Kylie Flannery, in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 2006.  AP has this story.

The Connecticut Legislature voted in 2012 to abolish the death penalty for future cases but not past ones.  CJLF's brief in the Connecticut Supreme Court supporting the prospective-only feature is here.

This verdict illustrates why the repeal vote was wrong.  Not once but twice, 12 citizens have decided unanimously that any punishment less than death for this particular crime is insufficient.  By taking that option off the table for future cases, the Connecticut Legislature has turned its back on justice.

Abolition of the death penalty is essentially an elitist cause.  People who live in safe, leafy neighborhoods can wring their hands over the poor, unfortunate wretches on death row and ignore the suffering of the people these monsters have murdered as well as the families left behind.  For politicians, a vote to abolish gets them good press and brownie points with some well-heeled supporters.  It appears not to hurt them with the general public as long as crime remains low on most voters' list of priorities.

In recent years, crime has been off the radar screen as wars in the Middle East, the financial crisis, the recession, and the fight over health care have taken center stage and while crime rates have dropped to lows unseen in decades.  In part, "tough on crime" has been a political victim of its own success.  In part, it has been undermined by the ebb and flow of unrelated historical events.

Will this be the year crime reappears on the voters' radar?  In Colorado, it is an element of Gov. Hickenlooper's surprising electoral weakness.  In California, backlash against Gov. Brown's "realignment" folly may be an element in California Republican Party's return from the grave.  We will have to wait and see.

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