This month the Connecticut legislature voted to repeal capital punishment, making it the seventeenth state to abolish the death penalty. As Elizabeth Brancato, whose mother was murdered in 1979 and is an ardent opponent of the death penalty, put it, “For those of us who believe killing is wrong, it somehow diminishes the death of our loved ones if we say in certain circumstances it is OK to kill.
Interestingly attitudes toward the penalty vary from region to region. According to an article by Peter Applebome in the New York Times, since executions resumed in 1976 after being halted by the U.S. Supreme Court there have been 1,069 executions in the South, 150 in the Midwest, 75 in the West, and 4 in the Northeast. The states that have abolished capital punishment are states that were reluctant to execute people in the first place.
All of this makes me think about California. Hopefully a referendum to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment will be approved by voters this November. The arc of history tends towards progress; I like to think of California as ahead of the curve. It’s time to stop denying the right to marry to same-sex couples. It’s time to stop executing people because killing is wrong.