A History of Connecticut's Death Penalty

May 31, 2011

Thirty-four states use the death penalty. Sixteen do not. Connecticut does, but most of its neighboring states -- New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont -- do not. New Hampshire does, but the state has had no executions since 1939 and currently possesses no means of executing anyone. Only recently did the ranks of its death row swell to one.

We're a little death penalty island in the middle of abolitionist states. There may not be a simple answer to why that is and accident may play a surprisingly big role. Connecticut came close to abolition in 1955, but right after that vote failed the crimes of Joseph "Mad Dog" Taborsky" took over the front pages of state newspapers, and there was no chance to make a second run. History seemed to repeat itself recently, as the horrible Petit murders altered a mood otherwise favorable for abolition.