March 8th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Yalies travel to Hartford to support death penalty repeal

Twenty-six Yalies drove up to Hartford, Conn. Monday to support the repeal of the death penalty at a public hearing of the state legislature.

The group joined family members of murder victims, death row exonerees, religious leaders and various citizen activists, who came to the Judiciary Committee hearing to voice their opinions for or against capital punishment in the state, Helen Jack ’12 said.

The Judiciary Committee considered seven bills at the hearing, two of which dealt with death penalty abolition, said Ben Jones GRD ’14, executive director of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty (CNADP). One bill proposes a retroactive repeal of the death penalty, eliminating the penalty for people already on death row as well as in future cases, while the other proposes a prospective repeal, ending capital punishment in the future. Both bills would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without chance of parole.

Jack, who is a leader in Yale’s Amnesty International chapter and serves on Amnesty International’s regional planning group for Connecticut, testified at the hearing on behalf of Amnesty International and Yale, she said. While the other Yale students came to the hearing in shifts, she and Amalia Skilton ’13 stayed at hearing for a full 14 hours until Jack’s time came to testify at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, they said.

Speaking from Amnesty’s human rights perspective, Jack called capital punishment “the ultimate violation of human rights.” She noted that at Yale nine undergraduate organizations, six religious groups, and two groups at the Law School have given their support for death penalty abolition in the past year.

The hearing is only the first step of a lengthy legislative process, Skilton, who is the youth organizer for CNADP and organized the Yale group’s trip to Hartford, said. After the state Judiciary Committee votes on the bills, if passed they will move onto a vote in the Connecticut House and then the Senate.

Since Governor Dan Malloy has voiced his support for abolishing capital punishment and made the issue a focus of his election campaign, Skilton said now is an opportune moment for a new bill. In 2009 a death penalty repeal bill passed the House and Senate only to be vetoed by former governor M. Jodi Rell.

“If we don’t act this year when we have a supportive administration, that chance will be lost,” Skilton said.

Connecticut is one of 35 states in the U.S. that retain the death penalty.

  • dudleysharp

    The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation

    Some wrongly state that executions are a human rights violation. The human rights violation argument often comes from European leadership and human rights organizations.

    The argument is as follows: Life is a fundamental human right. Therefore, taking it away is a fundamental violation of human rights.

    Those who say that the death penalty is a human rights violation have no solid moral or philosophical foundation for making such a statement. What opponents of capital punishment really are saying is that they just don’t approve of executions.

    Certainly, both freedom and life are fundamental human rights. On this, there is virtually no disagreement. Virtually all agree, that freedom may be taken away when there is a violation of the social contract. Freedom, a fundamental human right, may be taken away from those who violate society’s laws.

    So to is the fundamental human right of life forfeit when the violation of the social contract is most grave.

    No one disputes that taking freedom away is a different result than taking life away. However, the issue is the incorrect claim that taking away fundamental human rights — be that freedom or life — is a human rights violation. It is not. It depends specifically on the circumstances.

    How do we know? Because those very same governments and human rights stalwarts, rightly, tell us so. Universally, both governments and human rights organizations approve and encourage taking away the fundamental human right of freedom, as a proper response to some criminal activity.

    Why do governments and human rights organizations not condemn just incarceration of criminals as a fundamental human rights violation? Because they think incarceration is just fine.

    Why do some of those same groups condemn execution as a human rights violation? Only because they don’t like it. They have no moral or philosophical foundation for calling execution a human rights violation.

    In the context of criminals violating the social contract, those criminals have voluntarily subjected themselves to the laws of the state. And they have knowingly placed themselves in a position where their fundamental human rights of freedom and life are subject to being forfeit by their actions.

    Opinion is only worth the value of its foundation. Those who call execution a human rights violation have no credible foundation for that claim. What they are really saying is “We just don’t like it.”


    “Killing equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents”–very-distinct-moral-differences–new-mexico.aspx

    “The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge”

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