Wednesday, April 20, 2011

against the death penalty

Dear Representative Kokoruda, April 20, 2011

I am writing to urge you to vote ‘Yes’ to repeal the Death Penalty. Several decades ago, the Supreme Court ended the ban on capital punishment, with the proviso that it be carried out fairly. The death penalty is not fairly carried out: it is clear that sentencing often depends on factors (race, poverty, etc) having nothing to do with the objective facts of the crime.
The number of people who have been exonerated while on death row is also testimony to the fact that mistakes are made. I am anguished at the thought that innocent people have been sentenced – and in some cases put – to death.
Moral reasoning aside, the argument that the death penalty deters criminals is patently false. One need only glance at major crime statistics by state to see that the states which carry out capital punishment the most also feature some of the worst crime rates. The death penalty does not deter people like Stephen Hayes from committing crime. I consider killing carried out by the state a sign of the failure of government – a caving-in to mob instincts.
The real reason the death penalty exists is the wish for revenge. While not exactly a praiseworthy reason to kill, revenge might be acceptable – if the system were fair and failsafe, and if it in fact deterred crime. Neither of these conditions is met, which means we have a mode of punishment pandering to vengeance, faulty in application, and useless in effecting its stated aim. It is expensive to boot.
I know you are politically moderate, and focused particularly on economic issues. You and all other citizen-representatives are the bedrock on which our republic rests. The death penalty is an extreme measure and a cop-out from the hard work of making society better. Connecticut should not be in the company of states like Texas, not to mention countries like China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Please vote to repeal the death penalty in Connecticut.