Now Johnny is back (he’s always back, isn’t he?). In an interview broadcast this morning on Fox 61’s The Real Story, the convicted felon waxed philosophical on the subject of capital punishment in the wake of the conviction of Petit family killer and rapist Joshua Komisarjevsky.
Rowland trotted out the usual talking points about how putting convicted killers to death was a matter of “justice.” Really? Rowland complaining about bringing wrong-doers to justice is a little like Teddy Kennedy complaining that our criminal justice system favors the rich.
To be sure, Rowland isn’t a violent criminal. But only the most ardent of Rowland’s defenders would really insist that “justice” was done when he pleaded guilty to depriving the public of honest service and spent a little more than a year in the pokey.
As Bill Curry has pointed out, there were so many other matters Rowland might have gone to prison for besides the Bantam Lake cottage: the illegal $220 million loan from the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority to Enron, the sale of his Washington, D.C., condo at an inflated price, the free vacations and travel, or taking bribes in exchange for state contracts. But the plea bargain worked out by Rowland’s lawyer resulted in the state essentially calling it quits on trying to nail Rowland for anything else. So much for “justice.” Ugh.
Now to the substance of Rowland’s remarks. My main objections to capital punishment are twofold. First, I’m no Don Connery but I do have a history of awareness of and advocacy for the wrongfully convicted. If someone such as Falls Village’s Peter Reilly is unjustly convicted and evidence later arises that clears him, then we can always give him his freedom back. Not so if the inmate in executed. Why Rowland insisted that he hasn’t seen “any evidence” of wrongful executions, I do not know. A quick Google search turned up plenty of credible cases.
Secondly, and most importantly, the state should never be in the position of deciding who dies and who lives. When the government gets in the business of murdering its own citizens, we should all be ashamed — and terrified. Rowland’s comparison to the government killing people in war is specious. The rules governing war are far different from those governing our criminal justice system. Isn’t that one of the reasons President Obama hasn’t closed Guantanamo and sent Kalid Sheik Mohammed to Manhattan to be tried in a federal court? Enemy combatants shouldn’t be treated like common criminals.
If anything is more barbaric than Komisarjevsky’s murder and mayhem, it’s state-sanctioned murder. Here’s hoping Connecticut never executes another person again.