Since Connecticut repealed the death penalty, many have asked, “What’s next? Is the CNADP going to stick around?” The answer is yes. In the months since repeal, the CNADP staff and board have discussed the organization’s vision moving forward. Repeal of the death penalty was a long sought goal of the CNADP, and it was thrilling to realize this victory. But still there is much work left to do. The following statement provides a summary of the organization’s vision and priorities moving forward in a post-repeal environment.
The CNADP is a statewide grassroots non-profit organization committed to educating the public on the realities of capital punishment, creating a state and nation free of the death penalty, supporting murder victims’ families, and working for reforms to reduce wrongful convictions.
Founded in 1986, the CNADP has grown into a strong network of individuals and organizations working to end capital punishment. Murder victims’ families, law enforcement officials, civil rights leaders, educators, students, people of faith, and others have united around the shared conviction that the death penalty is a poor public policy. The death penalty puts innocent lives at risk of being executed; is biased in its application against the poor, those with mental disabilities, and minorities; fails to deter crime; wastes millions in tax payer dollars; and harms murder victims’ families by prolonging the legal process. Capital punishment’s dismal record, even after decades of reforms, makes clear that there is only one way to fix it – end it.
April 25, 2012, was a historic day for the CNADP. On this day, Connecticut became the 17th state – and the fifth state in five years – to abandon capital punishment. This victory was the culmination of decades of education and advocacy by CNADP’s members, volunteers, and allied organizations. Due to their tireless work, Connecticut’s experiment with capital punishment finally was coming to an end.
The CNADP recognizes that its work is not finished. Connecticut banned the death penalty for future crimes, but kept in place those on Connecticut’s death row and the possibility of future executions. CNADP remains committed to the goal of a state entirely free of the death penalty. Furthermore, the CNADP will work to ensure that the death penalty is never reinstated. By repealing the death penalty, Connecticut has taken an important step forward in its criminal justice policy. We cannot return to the harmful and failed system of the past.
The CNADP has entered a stage in which it will expand the scope of its work, as it puts a greater focus on supporting murder victims’ families and reducing wrongful convictions. Throughout its history the CNADP has worked closely with murder victims’ families and the wrongfully convicted. In February 2012, 179 Connecticut murder victims’ family members called for repeal of the death penalty, citing how the legal process in capital cases inflicts additional harm on them. Those exonerated of crimes of rape and murder in Connecticut likewise spoke out against the death penalty, citing the risk it poses to the innocent. Repeal of the death penalty benefited these two groups by responding to their concerns.
Still, victims’ families and the wrongfully convicted continue to face challenges that need to be addressed. It is a priority of the CNADP to continue working closely murder victims’ families, the wrongfully convicted, and their advocates to support programs and policies that are responsive to their needs.
Finally, the CNADP understands that Connecticut’s repeal of the death penalty was part of a larger national trend. Growing awareness of the death penalty’s flaws has led more individuals across the nation to reject capital punishment. Connecticut experienced firsthand this momentum for repeal. We now have a responsibility to spread this momentum to other states. Toward this goal, the CNADP provides assistance and expertise to other state organizations working to repeal the death penalty.