Sen. Kissel Opposes Proposal to Abolish Capital Punishment

May 22, 2009

Despite a close vote, proposal to abolish the death penalty moves forward
Senator John A. Kissel (R-Enfield) early this morning cast his vote in opposition to a proposal to abolish the death penalty. HB 6578, An Act Concerning the Penalty for a Capitol Felony passed the House 90-56 last week and passed the Senate after an eleven hour debate by a narrow margin of 19-17. If signed into law by Governor Rell, who has stated publically her intent to veto it, HB 6578 will replace the death penalty with a penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of release in capital felony cases and change the name of a capital felony to murder with special circumstances.

Sen. Kissel opposed the bill and spoke at length on the floor of the Senate, citing a number of reasons for his opposition. “When it comes to my Correction Officers,” said Sen. Kissel, “if you’re in prison for life without the possibility of release, there is no deterrent to keep and inmate from killing a correction officer or some other prison employee. If we abolish the death penalty there is no big stick left to keep law and order in our correctional facilities.” Sen. Kissel also offered an amendment that would carve out an exemption to the underlying bill for the murder of an employee of the Department of Correction by an inmate. The amendment was defeated 20-15.

Senator Kissel also noted that while he opposes abolishing the death penalty, he believes it should be used only in rare cases. “I support the continuation of reserving the death penalty for only the most heinous crimes,” said Sen. Kissel. “I fully support the notion that capital punishment should be legal, but rare. New England has an incredible history of tolerance. We believe in justice, equality and that people should treat each other with respect and dignity. We are unafraid to take the high minded view to lead the nation in how we treat one another and in that vein, while I espouse the belief we need to have a death penalty, we need to keep it rare.”

“For those individuals who are so anti-social, so diabolical, so horrific, this bill should be defeated and we should hold on to the construct that we currently have,” added Sen. Kissel. “Fundamentally, I believe it works as a deterrent, is utilized sparingly, and I know we bend over backwards to make sure no one on death row is there unjustly.”