The execution of Michael Ross in Conneticut started a statewide debate, says the Associated Press. Ross gave up his appeals and hired an attorney to expedite the process. Death penalty opponents and Ross’ father fought to stop the procedure, saying Ross was committing state-sponsored suicide. Inmates now on death row say Connecticut has made waiting for death almost unbearable. Experts and prison officials disagree on the effects of their long-term isolation, lawmakers and the courts will likely reconsider the future of the death penalty before another execution.
There are seven condemned inmates at Connecticut’s Northern Correctional Institution. In interviews with the Associated Press, they complained about almost total isolation in their 8-by-12 foot cells at the state’s highest security prison. They are barred from human contact, even with each other. They are not allowed jobs. They take their meals alone, through hinged slats in their cells’ solid steel doors. A correction spokesman conditions “are humane and constitutional and are based on the safety and security requirements posed by those individuals.” Said one death-row inmate: “They should treat us how we behave. Me, I’m guilty. I did something cruel. But I’m not a mean person. This place should be for the worst of the worst. We’re not the worst of the worst.”