The Nutmeg State’s Senate Passes Bill Protecting Right to Record Police AND Abolishes the Death Penalty in the Same Week
This week, the State of Connecticut made progress in the right direction on the criminal justice front on two issues I care deeply about: the right of individuals to record the police in public and abolishing the death penalty.
Earlier today, the Connecticut Senate passed a bill 42-11 that would hold the police liable for arresting individuals who record their activities in public. Carlos Miller writing for Pixiq writes:
The Connecticut state senate approved a bill Thursday that would allow citizens to sue police officers who arrest them for recording in public, apparently the first of its kind in the nation.
As it is now, cops act with reckless immunity knowing the worst that can happen is their municipalties [sic] (read: taxpayers) would be responsible for shelling out lawsuits.
Senate Bill 245, which was introduced by Democratic Senator Eric Coleman and approved by a co-partisan margin of 42-11, must now go before the House.
The bill, which would go into effect on October 1, 2012, states the following:
This bill makes peace officers potentially liable for damages for interfering with a person taking a photograph, digital still, or video image of either the officer or a colleague performing his or her job duties. Under the bill, officers cannot be found liable if they reasonably believed that the interference was necessary to (1) lawfully enforce a criminal law or municipal ordinance; (2) protect public safety; (3) preserve the integrity of a crime scene or criminal investigation; (4) safeguard the privacy of a crime victim or other person; or (5) enforce Judicial Branch rules and policies that limit taking photographs, videotaping, or otherwise recording images in branch facilities.
Officers found liable of this offense are entitled, under existing law, to indemnification (repayment) from their state or municipal employer if they were acting within their scope of authority and the conduct was not willful, wanton, or reckless.
While I think the fourth and fifth exceptions to the law could be problematic, this should go a long way toward holding the police accountable.
As if this wasn’t enough good news, just yesterday Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill to abolish the death penalty in the Nutmeg state. CNN reports:
(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.
Connecticut isn’t a state that comes to my mind when I think of a death penalty state and for a good reason: only 2 people have been executed in that state in the last 52 years (both of which wanted to be executed), according to the governor. So, if the administration of the death penalty is so infrequent, why does this abolishing of the death penalty even matter? I think Gov. Malloy said it quite well in his signing statement: “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.”
Keep up the good work Connecticut!
Hat Tip: The Agitator