Capital Punishment
4:19 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Sentencing Death After the Death Penalty's Repeal

Richard Roszkowski at his sentencing last week.  Roszkowski was sentenced to death after his conviction in a 2006 triple murder.
Richard Roszkowski at his sentencing last week. Roszkowski was sentenced to death after his conviction in a 2006 triple murder.
Credit CT-N
"At the moment, we don't have a drug that can be used for this purpose."
Mike Lawlor

In 2012, Connecticut repealed the death penalty for crimes committed after the law was changed. That doesn't mean more people won't end up on death row.  A man convicted of a 2006 triple murder was sentenced to death last week. 

On the one hand, the law seems clear. If you committed a crime before the law was repealed, and that crime qualified for the death penalty, you may still get sentenced to die. If you commit a crime today, the worst fate you can face is life in prison.

Mike Lawlor, the governor's undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning, said on WNPR's Where We Live that Connecticut isn't the only state to have passed what's called a prospective repeal of the death penalty. "Of the six states that have repealed the death penalty in the last few years," he said, "all of them did it prospectively. There's nothing unique to Connecticut."

Then there's this issue: Lawlor said Connecticut uses lethal injection, but it doesn't have any drugs to inject.

"Just to be clear," Lawlor said, "Connecticut doesn't have the drugs that were traditionally used in lethal injection, because they were manufactured in Europe, [and] the manufacturer has basically banned their use for this purpose. The states that have conducted executions have sort of improvised going to these compounding factories. At the moment, we don't have a drug that can be used for this purpose. If and when the time comes, we'll have to figure out how to obtain such a drug."

Not long ago, Oklahoma officials botched the execution of a man by lethal injection and that protocol is now under review. The idea that any of the people on Connecticut's death row will be executed seems slim, regardless of when they committed their crime. Lawlor said that only two people have been put to death by the state in more than 50 years, and they both volunteered.