In New Haven, Conn., a jury has voted to impose the death penalty on Steven Hayes.

Hayes was found guilty of three of the most atrocious murders in that state’s entire history – as well as using a baseball bat to assault the physician husband and father who is the one survivor of this horror. (One accomplice, Joshua Kominsarjevsky, is awaiting trial.)

These two paroled criminals invaded the Cheshire, Conn., home of Dr. William Petit.

Hayes was also found guilty of strangling and raping the doctor’s wife, along with her 11-year-old daughter, Michaela.

They tied Michaela and her 17-year-old sister, Hayley, to their beds. After forcing their mother to withdraw $15,000 from a bank, they set the house on fire, killing all three of Dr. Petit’s family members.

Kominsarjevsky is charged with sexually assaulting and then photographing his 11-year-old rape victim. The New York Times reports: “Kominsarjevsky’s story also features terrible details like his own history as a child rape victim.”

Hayes was condemned to death by the comparatively painless process of lethal injection.

This inevitably raises the question to all of us who are horrified by what these apprehended monsters did to this mother and her two daughters: Why should Hayes and Kominsarjevsky be allowed to go so painlessly when they inflicted such agony?

Why shouldn’t they both be burned at the stake, as have so many in history?

I mention this grim question in strong doubt that any real member of today’s advocates of capital punishment would agree, in this manner, to “let the punishment fit the crime.”

Will even the painless punishment of lethally injecting these two paroled convicts be a deterrent to crimes like these?

Note that these two men did not take their victims to a state where capital punishment has been abolished.

If the state of Connecticut believes that its executions (which may not come for many years, given the appellate system) are letting the punishment fit the crime, why will they be put to death in secret – with no TV cameras allowed, and probably in the middle of the night, with only a dozen or so witnesses?

Will the cost of maintaining these two on death row, plus the cost of contending in court with what could be years of appeals, not be far greater than life without the possibility of parole (and possibly in an isolated section of the prison with increased security against any possibility of escape)?

In such a circumstance, Connecticut could avoid the terrible irony of showing the world how much it disapproves of killing in cold blood – by doing exactly that – through lethal injection.

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