© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Challenging Connecticut's Prospective Death Penalty Repeal

Diane Orson


Connecticut’s Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty repeal. The law ends capital punishment for future crimes only.

Connecticut repealed the death penalty last year, but ten men who were on death row before the law passed still face execution.

Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher told the court that is unconstitutional.  

"Once the legislature has said no more death penalty we should all be able to agree that we don’t make decisions on who lives and who dies based upon something as arbitrary as the date of the repeal."

Rademaker acknowledged that new laws must draw the line somewhere.

"That may be tolerable in all other areas of legislation, but it's not tolerable when you’re dealing with the death penalty, because there are special rules that apply to capital punishment that require the distinctions to be moral and meaningful and related to the crime and the offender."

Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Harry Weller argued that the court should either uphold or invalidate the entire thing, "Because you can’t separate it. You can’t make those legislative choices. Those are for another constitutional branch of government - elected representatives of people of the state."

Weller said the debate about the death penalty is political and Connecticut has done something unusual by acting incrementally to end capital punishment.  He said legislatures around the country are watching.  

A ruling is expected in the coming months. 

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content