Why Bother Connecticut? The State of Connecticut's Experience With Capital Punishment

Judith A. McDonald, Westfield State College

ABSTRACT
This paper is a critical analysis of Connecticut's experiment with capital punishment from a retributivist perspective. Since 1976, Connecticut has given the death penalty to seven of its worst offenders -- vicious individuals who were felt deserving to die. Michael Ross was convicted of raping and murdering four young women. Todd Rizzo was convicted of murdering a 13 year old boy with a sledgehammer because he wanted to see what killing someone felt like. Daniel Webb was convicted of kidnapping, attempted rape and murder of a 37 year old woman. Three of Connecticut's seven death row inmates were convicted of their crimes in 1987 and 1989. A fourth inmate was convicted and sentenced to death in 1991 and a fifth in 1995. Four of the seven inmates have been sitting on death row for over thirteen years. Why? Capital punishment is said to serve two penological purposes -- retribution and deterrence. If capital punishment, according to the Supreme Court, fails to meaningfully contribute to one or both of these goals it becomes "nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering and hence an unconstitutional punishment". Connecticut has unsuccessfully satisfied either goal. Connecticut's most vicious and callous offenders deserve to die, and the state has an obligation to carry out its duty in a timely fashion. Connecticut has spent millions of dollars on its experiment with capital punishment -- to what end?

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006