Harden Law Offices

104 Main Street, Lancaster, NH 03584 603.788.2080
2 Cottage Street, Littleton, NH 03561 603.444.2084
199 Heater Road, Lebanon, NH 03766 603.448.3737

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Connecticut becomes 17th state to abolish death penalty

Connecticut becomes 17th state to abolish death penalty

By David Ariosto, CNN
updated 3:27 PM EDT, Wed April 25, 2012

(CNN) -- Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill into law Wednesday that abolishes the death penalty, making his state the 17th in the nation to abandon capital punishment and the fifth in five years to usher in a repeal.
The law is effective immediately, though prospective in nature, meaning that it would not apply to those already sentenced to death. It replaces the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release as the state's highest form of punishment.
"Although it is an historic moment -- Connecticut joins 16 other states and the rest of the industrialized world by taking this action -- it is a moment for sober reflection, not celebration," Malloy said in a statement.
He added that the "unworkability" of Connecticut's death penalty law was a contributing factor in his decision.
"In the last 52 years, only two people have been put to death in Connecticut -- and both of them volunteered for it," Malloy said. "Instead, the people of this state pay for appeal after appeal, and then watch time and again as defendants are marched in front of the cameras, giving them a platform of public attention they don't deserve."
This month, lawmakers in the state's House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 86 to 63. The state Senate had approved it a week before.
State lawmakers first tried to pass a similar bill in 2009 but were ultimately blocked by then-Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican.
Capital punishment has existed in the Nutmeg State since its colonial days. But it was forced to review its death penalty laws beginning in 1972, when a Supreme Court decision required greater consistency in its application.
A moratorium was then imposed until a 1976 decision by the high court upheld the constitutionality of capital punishment.
Since then, Connecticut juries have handed down 15 death sentences. Of those, only one person has been executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonpartisan group that studies death penalty laws.
Michael Ross, a convicted serial killer, was put to death by lethal injection in 2005 after he voluntarily gave up his appeals.
The state now has 11 people on death row.
Advocates of a repeal say that Connecticut's past law kept inmates -- who were often engaged in multiple appeals -- on death row for extended periods of time, costing taxpayers far more than if the convicts were serving a life sentence in the general prison population.
They also point to instances in which wrongful convictions have been overturned with new investigative methods, including forensic testing.
Opponents of the repeal had said that capital punishment is a criminal deterrent that offers justice for victims and their families.
In the last five years, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois have repealed the death penalty. California voters will decide the issue in November.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pot Legalization Could Save U.S. $13.7 Billion Per Year, 300 Economists Say

Huffington Post article....

Pot Legalization Could Save U.S. $13.7 Billion Per Year, 300 Economists Say

Posted: 04/17/2012 1:31 pm Updated: 04/18/2012 2:28 am
Huffington Post
Economists Marijuana Legalization
Your plans to celebrate 4/20 this Friday could actually make the government some money, if only such activities were legal. That’s according to a bunch of economists, and some prominent ones too.
More than 300 economists, including three nobel laureates, have signed a petition calling attention to the findings of a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which suggests that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by not having to enforce the current prohibition on the drug. The report added that legalization would save an additional $6 billion per year if the government taxed marijuana at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco.
That's as much as $13.7 billion per year, but it's still minimal when compared to the federal deficit, which hit $1.5 trillion last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
While the economists don't directly call for pot legalization, the petition asks advocates on both sides to engage in an "open and honest debate" about the benefits of pot prohibition.
"At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition," the petition states.
The economic benefits of pushing pot into mainstream commerce have long been cited as a reason to make the drug legal, and the economists' petition comes as government officials at both the federal and local levels are looking for ways to raise funds. The majority of Americans say they prefer cutting programs to increasing taxes as a way to deal with the nation’s budget deficit -- marijuana legalization would seemingly give the government money without doing either.
Officials in one state have already made the economic argument for pot legalization, but to no avail. California Democratic State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano proposed legislation in 2009 to legalize marijuana in California, arguing that it would yield billions of dollars in tax revenue for a state in dire need of funds. California voters ultimately knocked down a referendum to legalize marijuana in 2010.
Economist Stephen Easton wrote in Businessweek that the financial benefits of pot legalization may be even bigger than Miron's findings estimate. Based on the amount of money he thinks it would take to produce and market legal marijuana, combined with an estimate of marijuana consumers, Eatson guesses that legalizing the drug could bring in $45 to $100 billion per year. Easton’s name doesn't appear on the petition.
Some argue that the economic argument for pot legalization is already proven by the benefits states and cities have reaped from making medical marijuana legal. Advocates for Colorado's medical marijuana industry argue that legalization has helped to jumpstart a stalled economy in cities like Boulder and Denver, according to nj.com.

Medical Marijuana

A recent New York Times editorial:


A Dose of Compassion

Published: April 18, 2012
Medical marijuana, which can help relieve pain and nausea in patients with cancer and other illnesses, is now available in the District of Columbia and 16 states, including New Jersey. There is no reason patients in New York State, who are under the care of doctors, should be deprived of this useful treatment.
Yet Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stubbornly resisted efforts to make medical marijuana legal, even in strictly controlled ways. He said last week that “the risks outweigh the benefits” for this medical option and that the state already has a “terrible problem” with drug abuse.
But with strong state regulations, similar to those adopted in New Jersey, the dispensing of medicinal marijuana would not increase the risk of illegal use of the drug. A bill being considered in the Legislature, sponsored by State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, both Democrats, would create one of the nation’s strictest regimens for dispensing marijuana.
A health care professional who is qualified to prescribe medications would have to certify that a patient has enough of a “severe, debilitating or life-threatening” illness to use medical marijuana. The certification could last up to a year, and during that time, the patient must register with the state health department and be issued an ID card for use at a state-licensed dispensary. The maximum amount of the certified marijuana that a patient would be allowed to possess at any one time is 2.5 ounces.
Lawmakers should pass this bill and make it possible for patients to obtain small, legal doses of medical marijuana that could relieve their suffering.
A version of this editorial appeared in print on April 19, 2012, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: A Dose of Compassion.