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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Connecticut: Man on death row set to be resentenced in Cheshire home invasion

Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky
Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky
NEW HAVEN -- One of two men sent to Connecticut’s death row for the slayings of a mother and her two daughters during a 2007 home invasion is set to be resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release because the state abolished the death penalty.

Joshua Komisarjevsky is scheduled to be resentenced Tuesday in New Haven Superior Court.

He would be the third of the 11 death row inmates to be resentenced to life since the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled last year that their death sentences violated the state constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes were convicted of murder in the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, in Cheshire.


Hayes and Komisarjevsky broke into the Petit house at about 3 a.m. July 23, 2007, and beat Dr. William Petit Jr. on the head with a baseball bat as he was lying on a couch in the sunroom downstairs. They tied him up in the basement. Then the perpetrators tied the girls and their mother to beds upstairs.

Later that morning, Hayes forced Jennifer Hawke-Petit to drive with him to her bank and withdraw $15,000. Shortly after they returned to the house, Hayes raped and strangled her and one of the two perpetrators applied a match to gasoline that had been spread throughout the home. The girls died upstairs in the fire.

Petit was able to escape from the basement and crawl out of the house to seek help from a neighbor minutes before the fire erupted. Hayes and Komisarjevsky crashed the Petit vehicle into a police barricade nearby as they fled and were apprehended.

Source: The Associated Press, July 24, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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