After an emotional and extensive debate that lasted over 9 hours, the State House voted on SB 280, An Act Concerning Revisions the Penalty for Capital Felonies.
In a 86-63 vote, the House passed the repeal of Connecticut’s death penalty. The following is a letter from State Representative Noreen Kokoruda (R-101) on her vote.
The repeal of the death penalty is a very critical issue for our state. I believe Connecticut’s penalty for a capital felony is flawed. It just doesn’t work. No one can be sure if having a death penalty is a detriment to crime. I have read studies claiming very different outcomes. Many states that do have death penalties have higher crime rates than those who don’t.
This a moral issue for me – I do not believe in an “eye for an eye”. I always do my best to represent the beliefs of my constituents. But we are not voting on new taxes, public health issues or mass transit improvements. We are talking about putting someone to death, which is irreversible. For me this decision is not based on any consideration of the prisoner but rather a thoughtful consideration about us as a people. I believe that this is not what Connecticut is about.
I have heard from over 20 constituents about the abolition of the death penalty. Nearly all are in favor of repeal. I have met with a Madison resident who served in the Department of Corrections in Connecticut, becoming the prison warden in two of our correctional facilities. He told me that the death penalty in Connecticut and across the country is broken beyond repair. He said that the murder rates in states with the death penalty has exceeded the rate in non-death penalty states in the last two decades by as much as 44%.
I have also listened to families of murder victims who support repeal. We certainly have all heard of Dr. Petit’s brave fight to keep the death penalty but there are many families that urge repeal. Dragging out these cases with massive appeals victimizes these families yet again by a system that doesn’t work. Finally, there is the concern about our death penalty laws being fair and consistent. Are all our residents treated fairly in our court system? Over and over I have heard about convicted individuals who when found guilty, are given different punishments for the same crime.
Please know that I respect your concerns and position on this issue. However, as an elected public servant I believe it is my duty to legislate on what is in the best interests of my constituents as well as every resident of Connecticut. I have made my decision on the death penalty carefully, responsibly and thoroughly and am comfortable with that decision.