Death penalty proponents, foes testify at marathon hearing on repeal


Death Penalty - Cruel Punishmentoriginally by: Hartford Courant 
published: 14th March 2012

For the third time since 2009, the legislature’s judiciary committee on Wednesday pondered the fate of Connecticut’s death penalty, but those who want to abolish capital punishment believe this may be their year.

“I think there’s a real sense of urgency,” Ben Jones, executive director of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty, said Wednesday evening, about eight hours into a hearing on the topic. “We debated this so often, we just need to seal the deal.”

Jones noted that this year, the two Democratic Senate leaders, President Pro Tem Donald Williams of Brooklyn and Majority Leader Martin Looney of New Haven, were among the first to testify in support of the bill, which would replace the death penalty with life in prison with no possibility of release. And, he said, the NAACP is also making a big push for repeal.

The emotional topic of repealing the state’s death penalty drew large crowds to the state Capitol complex but the one individual whose pro-death penalty view has dominated the debate in recent years did not attend. Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of a horrific home invasion in Cheshire in 2007, has been a familiar presence at past legislative hearings on the topic, but this time, neither Petit nor his sister, Johanna Petit Chapman, was present.

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