Repeal Advocate: All Legislators Should Visit Death Row; News Conference Set for Wednesday

A leading proponent for the repeal of the death penalty in Connecticut says he thinks every member of the General Assembly should visit death row before voting on the issue. State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield (D-New Haven) says such visits would allow legislators to see what death row is all about.

Holder-Winfield’s advice comes in the wake of news that three Democratic state senators who are undecided on the issue have asked for such a visit. The Hanging Shad reported last week that in a meeting with leadership Wednesday, it was decided that state Sens. Joe Crisco (D-Woodbridge), Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) and Edith Prague would take the tour. 

Holder-Winfield says it’s a good idea. “Absolutely. Most people’s idea of what happens on death row simply isn’t accurate.” Holder-Winfield uses the example of being trapped in a room as an example. “Think of when you are very sick and have to stay in a room for 4 or 5 days. At that point, you’re just about to lose your mind. Multiply that by a lifetime and it might give you are idea of death row.” Holder-Winfield says the only “luxury” the convicts get is food.

Holder-Winfield is sponsoring a news conference Wednesday that will feature the families of murder victims who oppose capital punishment. “One of the arguments we hear is about ‘what the families want.’ We will hear directly from some of them this week.”

Meanwhile, there is question as to how many votes there are in the state Senate for repeal. A senator told The Hanging Shad last week that there were 18 votes for repeal without the three senators who want to visit the Northern Correctional Institution. But state Senate President Don Williams (D-Brooklyn) says that’s not necessarily the case. “The [vote] count is fluid. We are working to get a many votes for repeal as possible.”

Holder-Winfield’s news conference is Wednesday at 10 am in the Old Judiciary room in the Capitol.