“They should bypass the trial and take that second animal and hang him by his penis from a tree out in the middle of Main Street,”
State Senator Edith Prague, D-Lots of Places That Are Not Cheshire, CT, who was for the death penalty before she was against it, before she was for it again, but only for one man.
The abolition of the death penalty in Connecticut was already hanging on by the thinnest of wires, thanks to Governor Malloy’s decision to take several Senators into his administration. The vote was a very, very close one. And that was before Sen. Prague’s comments today, after she had a meeting with Dr. He Who Shall Not Be Named, CT’s favorite victim.
But lets be clear: Sen. Prague may not have changed her stance on the death penalty in general – she may very well vote for abolition next time, she magnanimously informs us – but in this one instance, she wants the government of Connecticut to murder a man:
Prague indicated she may still support future efforts to abolish the death penalty but said, this year, she couldn’t look Petit in the face and “not give him something that would make his life a little easier.”
“I actually believe in repealing the death penalty,” said Prague, a senator for 16 years. “For Dr. Petit, for me to do one more thing to cause him some kind of angst, I can’t do it.”
Prague’s voice broke today as she recounted her visit from Petit.
“I can still see Dr. Petit’s face in front of me. Oh, my god in heaven. I’m doing it because that’s what they came in for,” Prague said. “They brought their lawyer and said, ‘If you vote for the repeal, it would make it more difficult.”
And she’s not the only one:
Sen. Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington, who voted for repeal two years ago, said he also has reconsidered as a result of conversations with Petit.
Those who are regular readers know that I am not easily left at a loss for words. To say that these comments left me reeling would be an understatement. So let me state this in terms that should not be misunderstood by anyone: Sen Edith Prague is deciding policy in the State of Connecticut based on the wishes of one man.
She may well be the deciding vote that defeats the abolition bill and she is doing so, not because of some moral opposition to the death penalty, but because one survivor made a personal request to her. And what of the others? Those survivors who are opposed to abolition? Did she even bother to listen to their opinions? Can she look them in the face and make their life easier? Or is their loss not the same? Must we always side with vengeance and “justice” over mercy and compassion? Where do you want to be, at the end?
Connecticut’s capitulation to the person in question is well documented: our former Governor Rell repeatedly invoked his name in defeating criminal justice and death penalty abolition bills. Public opinion polls routinely separate one particular case from the idea in general when asking about the death penalty. And apparently, a majority of Connecticut’s citizens would agree with Sen. Prague.
It is one thing, however, for the general populace to voice such opinions – they should and are entitled to it. It is quite another for an elected representative, who takes an oath, to put aside policy considerations for the specific interest of one individual.
Make no mistake: this is the State of Connecticut explicitly stating that Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes are to be murdered. This should trouble you. The machinery of two governmental branches of the State have now maneuvered and conspired to bring about the deaths of two individuals.
If two elected representatives to State Government are so moved by their desire not to “make it more difficult” for this survivor, what chance do 12 members of a jury have?
I offer an analogy – admittedly weak, because nothing can adequately capture the gravity of the State’s decision to murder someone – but nonetheless: If this were not an abolition bill, but a bill to raise taxes and Sen Edith Prague made public comments that while she supports raising taxes and it will benefit the State, one individual from a city not in her jurisdiction came to her and begged her not to, because it would affect him personally, and so she will be voting against raising taxes this time. How hard would you laugh at her?
If the State can so contort itself to train its crosshairs on these two individuals – so explicitly, so blatantly and without any shame – why do you think you’re not next?
I suppose, on balance, an abolitionist might gain some small measure of hope from the fact that these public comments, with their explicit emphasis on the desire to please one individual over greater policy, would make it almost impossible for an appellate court to affirm the death sentence for a man so clearly and publicly marked for death. Upon rumination, however, I do not share that optimism. I have no faith in any of the branches of Government of this State. And they haven’t given me any reason to.
Whether you are for or against the death penalty is, in my opinion, entirely irrelevant to this post. Sen. Prague’s comments and her willingness to cow-tow to the emotional machinations of one individual should put the fear of God in all of us.
Today, we can no longer say that there is a divide between “them” and “us”. Today, Sen. Prague has made us all animals.