march, 29 2012 source : http://www.courant.com
video “news” : click here
HARTFORD — The leader of the NAACP came to the state Capitol Thursday to press for repeal of Connecticut’s death penalty.
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said Connecticut is a key state in the association’s strategy to eliminate capital punishment nationwide.
Sixteen states have repealed capital punishment, most recently New Jersey, New Mexico and Illinois.
“We have 10 more states before we can go to the Supreme Court,” Jealous told reporters at an afternoon press conference just outside Gov.Dannel P. Malloy’s office.
To end the practice, the court would have to determine that the death penalty is not just cruel but also unusual, Jealous said. And one measure of “unusual” is that the majority of states have outlawed it, he said.
Jealous acknowledged that the campaign to end capital punishment likely would not meet a great deal of success in the legislatures of Georgia, Texas and South Carolina. Instead, the group is focusing its efforts on states that it believes would be more amenable to scrapping the death penalty, such as Maryland, California and Connecticut, where lawmakers passed a repeal bill in 2009 only to have it vetoed by Gov.M. Jodi Rell.
On Thursday, Jealous stood alongside Rell’s replacement, Malloy, who has said he would sign a bill that replaces the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release. Such a bill cleared the legislature’s judiciary committee earlier this month, but its fate remains uncertain because at least three key state senators have indicated they are conflicted about it.
If approved, the ban would apply to future cases; capital punishment would be preserved for the 11 men currently on death row in Connecticut. The state executed only one man in the past 50 years.
During his visit to Hartford, his fifth in recent years, Jealous met with Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, a supporter of the repeal bill.
“We are on a mission at the NAACP to finish the work of Thurgood Marshall and W.E.B. Du Bois,” Jealous said.
Malloy, a former prosecutor, said that he used to be somewhat ambivalent on the death penalty but that working in the criminal justice system convinced him that capital punishment is wrong.
“I think everybody in the state of Connecticut knows what my position is,” Malloy said. “Ben didn’t have to travel all this way to convince me … but I was certainly happy to have a discussion about this item.”
Malloy said he is available to talk to those legislators still struggling with the issue. But he also suggested that the death penalty is a matter of conscience, not public opinion polls, for individual lawmakers.
“If [we] had taken a poll on civil rights in the United States in 1962, we’d still have Jim Crowe laws,” Malloy said.
Sen. John Kissel, an Enfield Republican and one of the strongest defenders of preserving the state’s death penalty, said he, too, votes his conscience. But, he added, “I still believe it’s important [tool] in our criminal justice system.”