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Hartford Courant: Capital punishment serves no useful purpose

The Hartford Courant in Connecticutt says end the death penalty, in part because of the Todd Willingham case:

The sickening spectacle of technicians laboring for two hours, without success, to insert a needle into the arm of an Ohio convict so they could execute him shows again why the death penalty is a national embarrassment.

This was the third time that Ohio has botched an execution. In two prior cases, death-penalty technicians had needed more than an hour to push needles into the veins of condemned inmates. In the most recent case last week, frustrated technicians even had to take a break before finally giving up their attempt to execute Romell Broom, convicted in the 1984 rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.

Ohio’s execution mockery came just weeks after the revelation that Texas may have put to death an innocent man in 2004. After Texas injected Cameron Todd Willingham with a lethal drug cocktail for setting a fire that killed his three children, the state created the Forensic Science Commission, which then hired a national fire expert to investigate. He concluded recently that the fire could not have been caused by arson, although the news obviously comes too late to help Mr. Willingham, who had maintained his innocence until the end.

Capital punishment serves no useful purpose. It fails to bring peace to victims’ families, does not deter crime, costs far more than life in prison, unfairly targets minorities, risks the possibility of executing innocent people and violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Most important, the notion of government-sanctioned killing offends the moral standards of an enlightened society.

On Oct. 4, death penalty opponents will rally at the Capitol in Hartford in support of a repeal measure.

Eleven men sit on death row in Connecticut. This year both chambers of the General Assembly voted for repeal. Unfortunately, Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the bill. Abolition will be on the agenda again next year. We hope the governor will change her mind.

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