First Northeast Execution Set In 40-Year Span


On Jan. 26, corrections workers in Connecticut are due to begin administering a fatal flow of chemicals into the bloodstream of Michael Bruce Ross, reports the New York Times. The execution would end a two-decade case that began in 1984 when Ross confessed to strangling six teenage girls and two young women. The execution would mark the first time in more than 40 years an inmate has been put to death north or east of Pennsylvania. Within New England, the death penalty can seem like a relic. Connecticut, which has eight people on death row, has not executed anyone since 1960. New Hampshire, the only other New England state that has capital punishment, has not executed anyone since 1939; death row there is empty.

The looming execution date for Ross, 45, is just beginning to renew controversy over the death penalty here, where the notion of a state execution can still evoke images of 17th-century accusations of witchcraft and piracy and the public hangings employed as punishment. Ross has decided not to file further appeals. Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly, said, “One of the great ironies of this whole thing is that if he gets executed in January, the only reason it’s going to happen is because he wants it to happen.” Neither judges nor most politicians in the Northeast are pushing to speed executions. In New York, the state’s highest court declared in June that the state’s death penalty law was unconstitutional, and lawmakers have been reluctant so far to try to revise and restore it.


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