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BC Expert: Connecticut Supreme Court rules state's death penalty law is unconstitutional

Kari Hong

510 384-4524 (Cell);

Kari Hong’s areas of specialization are immigration law, immigration consequences of criminal convictions, criminal law, family law and LGBT rights. Prior to joining Boston College, Hong operated her own firm with offices in California and Oregon where she specialized in immigration and criminal law. Hong has prepared more than 90 actions in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, representing non-citizens in asylum, removal defense, citizenship claims, and criminal defendants accused of white collar crimes, violent felonies and drug-related offenses. She has prepared more than 40 state criminal appeals in the state of California. An expert in family law and marriage, Hong's scholarship focuses on the parent-child relationship with a particular emphasis on how family doctrines are altered or distorted when applied in other legal areas. Hong’s articles have been published in the University of Virginia Law Review and the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal and have been cited by the New Jersey Supreme Court.



“This decision is a remarkable one.  Although the legal effect is limited to Connecticut, the lengthy decision - 92 pages long - is probably going to have a significant impact.

“Justice Breyer's recent dissent in a lethal injection case outlined the multiple problems with the death penalty. The Connecticut Court followed suit in not finding just one problem with the death penalty but many - from its barbaric history, arbitrary practice, to no penological purpose.  I suspect this will be the first of many state courts reconsidering whether the death penalty is cruel, arbitrary, and barbaric. 

“As a practical matter, for States that do have the death penalty, they are struggling to find drugs to use in lethal injections.  Foreign and U.S manufacturers are preventing their products from being used in executions.  So, the haphazard way in which States are experimenting with whatever they can get their hands on will continue.  This practice should give people pause because the drugs that prisons can get are not the effective drugs used in human surgeries or by veterinarians in euthanasia. The executions are now botched - lasting as long as three hours as the drugs simply do not work as the more powerful ones would have.

“What is interesting is that, in light of the existing drug shortage - arising from the fact that drug manufacturers are preventing States from buying the effective drugs that could result in death - in the past couple of months, a handful of states have authorized the more brutal forms of execution to be used.  Arkansas and Utah plan on using firing squads, Oklahoma will use the gas chamber, while Florida and Tennessee intend to use the electric chair.

“There is no doubt that one of these more barbaric forms of execution will be attempted to be used in the next year. 

“Regardless of what is happening in courts, I suspect the Court of public opinion will not stand to watch many of these brutal executions.  I suspect that once the death penalty is stripped of the medical veneer that hides what it truly is, Americans will denounce this practice, just as every other Western country in the world has as well.”



Note to media: Contact information for additional Boston College faculty sources on a range of subjects is available at:  /offices/pubaf/journalist/experts.html


Sean Hennessey
Boston College News & Public Affairs
617-552-3630 (o)
617-943-4323 (c)