Monday, March 19, 2012

CT senator flip-flop-flips on the death penalty

Connecticut's legislature is considering the repeal of capital punishment.  This is the fourth time in seven years the legislature has considered such a measure.  During those seven years there was a highly publicized multiple murder that landed two men on death row.

Senator Edith Prague has been anything but a leader in this process.  She made a different decision each time the topic has come up.

According to the CT Mirror, if you'd asked for her position on the death penalty over the past five years, you may well have gotten a different opinion each year. When her neighbor's granddaughter was murdered she was all for it -- and the girl's killer, Michael Ross, was the last person to be executed in Connecticut in 2005. But in 2009, Prague voted for repeal.

Her explanation? "Well, then James Tillman came along." Tillman, although not on death row, had been exonerated after spending 16 years in prison, reported Mirror.  She has voiced her concern about executing an innocent person.  Death penalty opponents often talk about the execution of an innocent person, they cannot point to a single innocent person execution in the modern era of the death penalty.

Two years later Senator Prague very nearly cast the deciding vote in the Senate before refusing to vote at the last minute. Her explanation that time: A personal plea from Dr. William Petit, the Cheshire murders' lone survivor, told her that repealing the death penalty would make it more difficult for his family's murderers to get the justice he thought they deserved.

"If I thought for a minute that those two horrible monsters would be able to escape the death penalty by voting for repeal at this point, that would be a factor in my decision," Prague told the Mirror, referring to Joshua Komisarjevsky and Stephen Hayes, who were sentenced to death for the Cheshire murders.

We may yet see another flip-flop by Senator Prague. She has indicated that she could not support a repeal if it meant the 11 people on Connecticut's death would not be executed.  Prague has been asked to cast a vote on the death penalty three times, with one pending.  She has cast one vote to repeal, one vote to maintain and refused to cast a deciding vote.  A real profile in courage.

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