• Lawmaker pushing for reinstatement of the death penalty in Mass.

    Updated:

    BOSTON - One state representative is pushing for the reinstatement of capital punishment in Massachusetts.

    The death of Yarmouth Police Officer Sean Gannon has reignited the debate over the death penalty and whether the state should consider bringing it back.

    Representative Shaunna O'Connell said Massachusetts should bring back the death penalty, particularly in cases where people kill police officers. 

    "Massachusetts has a reputation for being soft on crime and unfortunately that hurts our public safety," said Rep. O'Connell. "We need to send a message to criminals that 'you kill law enforcement officers you are going to get the death penalty.'"

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    O'Connell said the recent killing of Officer Gannon and the 2016 shooting of Auburn Officer Ronald Tarantino are reason enough for the death penalty to be brought back for those accused of killing police.

    O'Connell said she previously backed legislation introduced by James Miceli for capital punishment. 

    Following Gannon's death last week, Governor Charlie Baker reiterated his stance regarding capital punishment. His office said, in a statement: 

    "Governor Baker supports the death penalty for the offense of killing a police officer and signed legislation last Friday to impose a new mandatory minimum for assault and battery on a police officer causing serious injury."

    The American Civil Liberties Union defends the death penalty violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment. It was deemed unconstitutional in Massachusetts several decades ago.

    "I support it 100%," said John Melo. "It's severity, these people are getting a slap on the wrist."

    Some, like Melo, agree the death penalty should be brought back to Massachusetts, while others don't believe it's the answer.

    Currently, 31 states still allow capital punishment as a sentence for more serious crimes - it is also used on the federal level.

    Boston 25 News reached out to Rep. Miceli to see if he'd introduce the new death penalty legislation but have not heard back.

    Given he led the effort before those, O'Connell said she deferred to him but would support a renewed effort.

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