My opinion on the death penalty

I bet you’ll never guess. I’ve got what I think is a pretty practical view on the death penalty – or lack there of such a penalty – when it comes to murder sentencing. Although I do not have (thank God) a family member or friend who has been affected by a capital felony case, my view is that it would be fine to get rid of the death penalty… with a few caveats.

Rick Green over at the Hartford Courant online posted part of Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s letter to Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz where she vetoes HB 6578, An Act Concerning the Penalty for a Capital Felony..

Rell writes…

There is no doubt that the death penalty is a deterrent to those who contemplate such monstrous acts. The statistics supporting this fact, however, are not easily tabulated. How do we count the person who considered the consequences of the crime and walked away? We cannot, but we know that this occurs. We have a responsibility to act to prevent these heinous crimes and to ensure that criminals will not harm again.

Since Rell did not provide any statistics, Green provided a link to the Death Penalty Information Center post comparing the murder rates of death penalty and non-death penalty states. The statistics “show” that states without the death penalty have lower murder rates.

Come on now… it’s not plausible to think a criminal would commit capital felony murder specifically because they were in a death penalty state, or elect not to commit murder since the penalty was only life in prison.

Rell was right on the money when she stated you can not measure crimes that did not happen due to sentencing guidelines that scared criminals straight. This also applies to crimes that were not committed by criminals in a specific area due to a higher percentage of citizens trained and carrying a concealed pistol.

There are many other factors to consider, and since I don’t what to re-phrase my comment on Green’s CT Confidential post, here it is, with my emphasis of my own comment in bold.

Is the Death Penalty Information Center suggesting that there is a direct correlation between murder rates in non-death, and death penalty states? In other words, there would be less murders if we did not have the death penalty, and having the death penalty increases murder rates?

That’s not really plausible.

Connecticut is a death penalty state, but in reality that punishment does not act as a deterrent since we’ve only executed one person in something like 20 years.

Since 1976, there has [sic] been about 1,175 executions in the United States, with 73 percent executed in only nine states, and 54 percent in Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma alone.

Statistics ya know? What’s the bias of the Death Penalty Information Center?

That said, I’m fine with abolishing the death penalty, but once convicted and sentenced to life without parole, the inmate should get no visits with family, no TV, no mail privileges, no interaction with other inmates and only occasional Red Cross visits.

The problem is that people will fit [sic] to get visitation, TV, mail privileges and human interaction … all perks the victims and the victims [sic] families would not have access to.

I’ll add that I’m find with basic medical care and three non-tasty meals a day, but once the appeals are done, they should be done. No more appeals and lawyers arguing for a new trial. If the felon was going to get the death penalty that has been reduced to life without parole – he or she is done with the court system and is a ward of the state.

Your comments?

Posted in

Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. Darlene on June 5, 2009 at 9:31 am

    This is one of those issues that, I believe, until you have been there you will never truly know how you would feel.  I have had the experience of both losing a family member to crime and serving as a juror on a multi-murder death penalty case. 

    I lost a family member to a 2nd degree murder when I was 19 years old.  While that was not a death penalty case, it caused me to seriously consider my feelings on the death penalty.  I have always strongly supported the death penalty for 1st degree murder cases believing that if someone consciously and intentionally takes the life of another, they lose their right to life. 

    A few years later I found myself on a jury for a 1st degree, multi-murder case in Florida.  There was no doubt that the man on trial killed several people.  It was horrifying to endure.  It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made in my life and a memory I will never forget.  Because of the very specific elements of that particular case, I did not impose the death penalty.  Again, I stress that specifics caused me to think differently.

    My point:  Imposing the death penalty can only be determined when the specifics of a case are known.  A group of politicians or a single person should NOT be able to decide this serious penalty on general conditions.  Specifics of each case should warrant careful consideration of a full jury, in all cases, in all states.  In my humble and "experienced" opinion.

    Thanks for sharing your views on this and thanks for letting me share mine.

    • gillie28 on June 6, 2009 at 11:48 pm

      Darlene, that was such an absorbing post, and your personal experiences with this issue made it come alive.  Thanks for posting.

    • Rick-WH on June 8, 2009 at 1:39 am

      Darlene – thank you for sharing.

      It is pretty clear that the death penalty system in Connecticut is not working.

      The multiple appeals and the benefits that the inmates receive – make a mockery of justice.

  2. Steve McGough on June 5, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Excellent point. I guess that is why we have murder and then capital felony murder. To generalize that the state would never be allowed to put one to death does paint a broad brush. It's kind of like – but not really – the president saying the United States will never use enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs), while quietly leaving the option for the Executive Branch to use EITs if the president says it's OK.

    • Darlene on June 5, 2009 at 11:32 am

      Great correlation. 

  3. toms on June 5, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Here's something to think about;

    The average cost of housing an inmate is $44,165

    The average cost of executing an inmate is $5,000,000

    It's much cheaper to let them sit in prison for the next 113 years and think about what they've done.

  4. Bill24261517 on June 6, 2009 at 2:15 am

    "There are several problems involved in trying to determine the cost of a capital case. First, there is a wide variety of costs associated with capital cases. These include costs for prosecuting and defense attorneys, interpreters, expert witnesses, court reporters, psychiatrists, secretaries, and jury consultants." Your numbers are interesting but incorrect.

  5. Darlene on June 6, 2009 at 3:27 am

    A source would be  helpful when stating such implied facts tom.  And … Is that the costs of execution itself (because I would find that doubtful) or is it the cost of years and years of legal battles that we allow?  How about we fix the system that might allow an innocent person to be found guilty, instead of changing the penalty of that guilty charge or the decision of a jury who imposes it. 

  6. Bill24261517 on June 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    If our legislators were concerned about justice and the rights of law-abiding citizens they would legislate issues such as limiting time to trial, limiting appeals, and then rapid execution. The IV set-up and medications required are very inexpensive. The legislature and abolitionists are playing a big game with others lives because they are afraid to protect society from evil. With a 10 billion dollare deficit over 2 yrs ina 36 billion dollar budget, job one is lay-offs and cuts; not abolishng an appropriate law.

  7. Linda Mae on June 6, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    The statistics “show” that states without the death penalty have lower murder rates.

    This quote balances Rell's quote

    There is no doubt that the death penalty is a deterrent to those who contemplate such monstrous acts. The statistics supporting this fact, however, are not easily tabulated.

    In both cases there is no cause effect relationship which can be proven. So many other things must be considered.  Besides demographic info to consider, we can also look at family dysfunction, personality, ego, sense of values, sense of responsibility, etc. It's all speculation. 

    It is cheaper to keep someone in prison — without the cost of appeals which cost the state millions and further hurt the families of the victims.

    • Darlene on June 7, 2009 at 5:49 am

      Linda Mae, your comment implies that murderers who are sentenced to life in prison (vs death) don't carry similar costs of appeals.  Admittedly, I do not know those statistics so cannot argue on the numbers, but I would certainly ask that those of you who make the claims of cost versus benefit would state the facts. 

      The question here is – should we have a penalty of death for capital murder.  This debate began with "is it a deterrant" to my point of punishment, to some points based on cost. 

      This is not a question of cause & effect or cost.  This is a question of how do we punish those who take the lives of others?  And if you could forget for a moment all other arguments and think, if it were your sister, brother, daughter, son, mother or father who were murdered, intentionally  … would you be asking how much it would cost to punish the murderer?  Would you be asking if the punishment would deter the next potential murder?  I would think not.  And if you would, then lets just agree to disagree on this issue and be thankful no one person makes that decision (well … except of course the murderer).

  8. Bill24261517 on June 7, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Agreed, the critical issue is what is justice, what is right and what is morally and practically necesary to maintain a just society. The abolitionists have looked for 109 years and have been unable to document one case of an innocent being executed. The money issues would disappear if common sense prevailed; trial for guilt, trial for penalty, one appeal, done-the current system is a mockery of law and justice. The lawyers waste time and our (your) money and care not-talk to any lawyer who has had a family member murdered and you will hear little to nothing positive about the American injustice system. It has become an academic game with little to no basis in the realities of life-most prefer to not think about it-it is too hard. We need to fix the system, it is totally dysfunctional. It in fact functions much like our state and federal legislature-they considrr it a gravy train, a place to make a pension, a place to find health benefits, very few think of it as public service-i.e what is best for the whole of society. I find it perplexing that 70-85% of CT residents favor the death penalty for capital felonies and a small group with a large majority think hey know better-most having never studued the issue-though in truth theitr real responsibility threse past 5 months was to the budget which they ignored because they will not lay off union workers and continue to want to keep spending up with prior income levels.

  9. Jim_Ban on June 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    The Bible is very clear. If you murder someone, you are to be executed. The Bible declares thou shalt not kill as one of the commandments in Exodus 20:13:13:" Thou shalt not kill.", but most people ignore what is said 25 verses later, where murder is condemned by execution. Exodus 2: He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

    13: And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.

    14: But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.

    15: And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

    16: And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

    17: And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

    The only reason people suggest the death penalty doesn't work is because we dont do it quickly:

    Ecc 11: Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

    • BEA on June 9, 2009 at 2:42 am

      Jim Ban~I agree.  God gave us the Bible as a manual for life.  He's made it all pretty clear (consequences for killing, abortion, marriage, debt, war, Israel, etc).

      Personally, I have an uncle who was murdered and I also have a childhood friend who is sitting in prison for murdering someone.  I am so glad it's not left up to me…God has already instituted it.


  10. Steve McGough on June 8, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Please keep your comments to 75 words or less.

  11. homosapiens on June 8, 2009 at 3:19 am

    Should the 75 word limit apply to the initial post, too?

  12. Steve McGough on June 8, 2009 at 4:26 am

    Per the FAQ and Terms of Use, yes, all comments should be limited to 75 words since they are comments on the original post, and not an "initial post" themselves. There are times we let comments be longer, but it is at our discretion. Brevity is the soul of wit.

  13. Trawlerowner on June 9, 2009 at 3:08 am

     I agree with the following statement:   I’m fine with abolishing the death penalty, but once convicted and sentenced to life without parole, the inmate should get no visits with family, no TV, no mail privileges, no interaction with other inmates and only occasional Red Cross visits.  

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