The Massachusetts House has soundly rejected Governor Mitt Romney’s plan to reinstate the death penalty, says the Boston Globe. The vote defeated one of his signature 2002 campaign initiatives and affirmed the legislature’s growing opposition to capital punishment. The 100-53 vote came after Romney declared that the death penalty was no longer among his highest priorities. The decisive outcome underscores how capital punishment has lost support among state lawmakers since it was a hotly contested issue in the 1980s and 1990s.T he debate reached a peak in 1997 after the killing of Jeffrey Curley, 10, but the House rejected a bill reinstating the death penalty on a tie vote. Legislators rejected it in 2001 by a 92-60 vote.
Romney came to office pledging what he called a ”failsafe” death penalty that the state would carry out only after a case met many criteria, including high standards for forensic proof and reviews by an independent panel and the courts. The safeguards weren’t enough to sway House members, several of whom said they could not envision how the state would be sure it was executing only those who committed the crimes. ”All of us are imperfect and all of us have flaws,” said state Rep. Eugene L. O’Flaherty (D), cochairman of the Judiciary Committee. ”And there never can be certainty, when you subject somebody to capital punishment, that you are executing somebody completely guilty.”