As I sat in court today, a young man came up for sentencing. I hate watching these sentencings, because they’re sad affairs all around. The young man, I say young man because he couldn’t have been more than 20, was pleading guilty to some serious offense. I don’t know what it is that he is alleged to have done, but there he was.
As the judge went through the canvass, taking special care to make sure he understood the parameters of the plea bargain (it was a right to argue), it struck me that this young fellow was going to see nothing but the inside of a prison for the next 15 years. 15 years just gone, finished, written in stone. I can’t imagine being in his position (nor do I ever want to be), knowing that one act you committed, one moment of weakness, has resulted in your being banished out of sight and out of mind for the next 15 years. The world will move on by and you’ll be left there, stuck in a vacuum. The things you will not see, the air that you will not breathe, the freedom that you have squandered away. Is there regret? Is there pain? Is there sadness? It broke my heart.
Sure enough, as he walked away, a tear rolled down his cheek.
It’s just sad.
Say two thirds of those polled in this latest Quinnipiac University poll. There you go legislators.
Only 35 percent of voters support a so-called “third strike” law where a person convicted of three violent felonies automatically is sentenced to life in prison, while 63 percent say sentences should be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Oh thank God.
There are some other interesting results in this poll. For example, only 27 percent say they feel less safe at home since Cheshire. On prison overcrowding:
48 percent of voters say build more prisons, while 39 percent say release inmates earlier. But only 47 percent of voters want to pay higher taxes for new prisons, while 50 percent are opposed.
Meanwhile, by a 62 – 32 percent margin, Connecticut voters are willing to pay higher taxes for more community supervision of offenders.
Interestingly, the Cheshire murders have not sparked a huge increase in support for the death penalty. Connecticut is in favor of the death penalty by a margin of 63-27, which is a slight increase from 60%, which was prior to Cheshire. However, when given the alternative of life in prison without parole, the state splits 47-44 in favor of the death penalty.