Though Adam Lanza may have committed one of the most heinous crimes in history, had he survived his rampage and been convicted in court, he would not have been sentenced to death. In April of 2012, Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) and the Democrat-led Connecticut legislature repealed the death penalty on a party-line vote. The law replaced capital punishment with life in prison, without the possibility of parole.
A Quinnipiac poll released on April 25th, indicated that, while Connecticut voters supported the death penalty in general, 62% - 30%, they were evenly divided on the preferred punishment for a person convicted of murder, with 46% stating they would prefer the death penalty, and 46% preferring life in prison with no parole.
Regarding the survey results, poll director Dr. Douglas Schwartz said, “The death penalty is a complex issue for voters, and for pollsters. Connecticut voters want to keep the death penalty, perhaps as an option for the most heinous crimes, such as the Cheshire murders.”
In 2010, Steven Hayes was convicted of the torturous murder of a mother and her two daughters during a home invasion in Cheshire, Connecticut in 2007. Hayes was sentenced to death following a widely publicized trial, but remains on death row, with no execution date.
In May of 2011, the Democrat-led Connecticut legislature had earlier approved a controversial early release program for prisoners, following an emotional debate among lawmakers. The law allows for early release of prisoners who show good behavior and participate in rehabilitation programs while serving their prison sentence. According to supporters of the bill, prisoners sentenced for violent crimes are not eligible for early release.
However, recent murders in the Connecticut towns of East Hartford and Meriden have been linked to prisoners who were granted early release.
In late June of this year, Frankie Resto, a prisoner released early, allegedly gunned down Ibrahim Ghazal, a convenience store owner in Meriden. Following Resto’s early release, he was not assigned a parole officer. He left Connecticut and violated probation four times before allegedly murdering Ghazal.
In August, Kezlyn Mendez, another early release prisoner, allegedly murdered Luthfur Tarafdar in East Hartford. Despite the suspect’s extensive criminal background, which includes robbery, assault, and violation of probation, Mendez was permitted early release from prison.
In addition, a woman who calls herself “K,” was told, in December of 2011, that John Moniz, a man who was convicted of kidnapping and raping her, would be eligible for the early release program. Moniz had been sentenced to 10 years in prison, when the judge referred to him as “an extremely dangerous predator.”
Had Adam Lanza survived and been convicted in a Connecticut court of law, he would not be sentenced to death, but most might speculate that he would be sentenced to life in prison without parole. However, in 20 or 30 years, when Lanza would have been 40 or 50 years old, and the rawness of this massacre had passed, would future Connecticut lawmakers believe his “good behavior” while in prison would warrant early release?