Compared with the most prolific death penalty states, Connecticut’s post-conviction regimen takes longer and has more layers. The Hartford Courant says the biggest difference isn’t the average time the 10 death-row inmates have been there or the fact that the 7,200-page trial transcript for Steven Hayes won’t be ready until Christmas at the earliest, when the first convicted Cheshire co-defendant has passed his one-year anniversary on the row.
“The biggest difference,” says Kathryn Kase of the Texas Defender Service in the most prolific death-penalty state, “is that we execute people, and, by and large, you guys don’t.” Texas has executed 475 people since 1976. In Connecticut, the lone execution in 51 years occurred only because serial killer Michael Ross begged to die. Some prosecutors call the state system a fraud. Either have it, or don’t, they say. State public defenders say they have an ethical obligation to raise all valid claims. The defenders’ office spent $3.4 million last year defending capital cases and pursuing death-row appeals.