BOSTON (WWLP) — The state House of Representatives rejected a pitch to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth has been without the death penalty since 1984 when it was struck down by the courts, but following the Boston marathon attacks, some state lawmakers are looking to bring it back.
“Everyone is relieved that these terrorists are going to be federally charged because he can get the death penalty, but what if he were not going to be federally charged? In Massachusetts there would be no death penalty,” said Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton).
House lawmakers effectively killed the state budget amendment to reinstate the death penalty by sending it to be studied in a legislative committee. This after a bipartisan group of legislators highlighted the need for capital punishment following the Boston marathon bombings and the shooting death of an MIT officer.
“You know people have been talking about we have to protect our officials, we have to protect the police,” said Rep. James Miceli (D) Wilmington. “This is the time to step up to the plate and do it.”
The death penalty amendment was filed days before the bombings. Lawmakers say it targets killers who murder police officers, judges, and public officials or commit acts of terrorism, but it also applies to drug trafficking offenses. Many western Massachusetts lawmakers do not support capital punishment.
“There’s something just moralistically about taking someone’s life that just isn’t right,” said Rep. Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke).
“Doesn’t belong in a budget debate,” said Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield). “If there are lawmakers here who believe that this should be part of Massachusetts general law, than they need to file a bill and go through the process.
The state House of Representatives also voted overwhelmingly against reinstating the death penalty in 2007 and 2005. Lawmakers who oppose capital punishment say it’s costly and doesn’t deter crime.
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