Women and the Death Penalty in the United States, 1900-1998

By Kathleen A. O'Shea | Go to book overview

6
Connecticut: Lethal Injection

The state of Connecticut has sentenced one woman to death since 1900. No woman has been legally executed in Connecticut, and there are no women on death row in Connecticut today.

In 1995, in a matter-of-fact decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court voted 4 - 3 to allow the execution of death row inmates in the state after a thirty-five year hiatus. The decision represented the first time the seven sitting justices had upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty in the state ( Frisman, 1996). It affirmed the death sentence of a state inmate for the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated death sentences in 1972.

The new Connecticut law requires a jury to balance both aggravating and mitigating factors in each case. Previously, the death penalty could not be imposed if even a single mitigating factor was present.

Currently, in order to get a death sentence the state has to prove that a murder falls into one of nine categories required for a capital felony These include the murder of a police officer, a murder for hire, a murder during the course of a kidnapping or sexual assault, and a murder of two or more people at a time.

Michael Ross, who brutally raped and murdered at least six women from eastern Connecticut in the early 1980s, was the first person sentenced to death in Connecticut in over a quarter of a century. But in 1994 the Connecticut Supreme Court threw his sentence out. Later, in 1998 Ross wrote a 10-page document that was signed by the special prosecutor in which he agreed to forgo a death penalty hearing and accept a sentence of death by lethal injection. Judge Thomas Miano ruled the document was unconstitutional and that Connecticut law requires a 3-judge panel or a jury to decide whether or not someone should be executed. Ross, acting as his own attorney said he didn't feel he needed a jury and that the judge should just sentence him to death.

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