Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We're STILL debating the death penalty???

I was quite fortunate to be in attendance at this morning's press conference/lobby session in support of repealing the death penalty here in Connecticut. My personal animus toward capital punishment is long-standing, and based on a variety of moral/ethical/practical/financial/sociological reasons. I may indeed elucidate those views at a later date in this space.

My purpose today is rather to mention the various wonderful people in attendance this morning in support of this important cause. First and foremost, Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean, Victoria Coward and other family members of murder victims courageously and eloquently shared their stories of pain, and spoke with great impact in favor of repeal. Anyone with a hint of humanity could not have helped being moved to tears. The fact that these people had to speak is a shameful commentary on where we are as a society. My only regret is that our legislators who will vote on this issue were not there to hear these words; I suspect those opposed to repeal would lack the fortitude to look these people in the eye and admit their opposition. If they had a scintilla of the courage of these speakers, we would not be discussing this issue.

Great thanks should be bestowed on Alexandra Ferreira, Kristin Bollig and their colleagues at CT Network to Abolish the Death Penalty for organizing this event. Attendance was strong, with the crowd spilling into the hallways. Also in attendance were Paul Gustafson, a teacher at Hamden Hall, and Kevin Barry, a professor at Quinnipiac School of Law, who brought many of their students to lobby their respective representatives. Their students' knowledge, passion and commitment to action are highly inspirational. They restored some hope for our future in the heart of this old cynic. It was also a distinct pleasure to meet Miles Halpine, Communications Director for Connecticut State High School Democrats. Miles aspires to run for political office some day; I hope he does run, as young, smart, caring people like him will help make our world a better place.

Finally, a word to our legislators, particularly those opposed to overturning the death penalty: We care, we vote, and we have friends who vote.

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