Connecticut Governor Signs Bill to Repeal Death Penalty
Date:  04-27-2012

Connecticut joins 16 states that abolished capital punishment
In a move that surprised no one, Governor Dannel Malloy quietly signed a bill that repealed Connecticut’s death penalty. Malloy has been vocal about his opposition to the death penalty and said he would sign the bill to abolish it, if the bill made it out of legislation. It did, passing in the Connecticut Senate 20 – 16, and then in the House by 86 – 62 vote.

Under the new law , in the future, those convicted of “murder with special circumstance” will face life in prison without the possibility of parole, and these inmates will be held in a special unit under stricter rules and regulations than other prisoners convicted of lesser crimes.

Prior to being elected governor, Malloy was the mayor of Stamford, CT. But earlier in his career he was a prosecutor in New York. It was in this position that he began to have second thoughts about his support for the death penalty. In a prepared statement Malloy said, “As a young man, I was a death penalty supporter. Then I spent years as a prosecutor and pursued dangerous felons in court, including murderers. In the trenches of a criminal courtroom, I learned firsthand that our system of justice is very imperfect.” Malloy added, "While it's a good system, designed with the highest ideals of our democratic society in mind, like most of human experience it is subject to the fallibility of those who participate in it. I saw people who were poorly served by their counsel. I saw people wrongly accused or mistakenly identified. I saw discrimination. In bearing witness to those things, I came to believe that doing away with the death penalty was the only way to ensure it would not be unfairly imposed."

The effort to repeal the death penalty was not without opposition. Connecticut was the scene of a particular horrific crime in which a mother and her two daughters were killed in a gruesome way. The mother was strangled and the daughters were doused with gasoline and burned alive. The two men who were convicted of the murders are on death row, along with nine other convicted murderers who were also sentenced to death. In order to get the bill passed in the House, language had to be inserted to assure those currently on death row will be exempt from the repeal. This controversial move is expected to bring about challenges by attorneys representing the death row inmates.

The same day that Malloy signed the bill to repeal the death penalty a Quinnipiac poll found that 62 percent of Connecticut voters who took part in a survey approve of the death penalty, but also found that 46 percent of those surveyed believed that the death penalty was the appropriate form of punishment for the crime of murder with special circumstances, while an equal number felt that life without possibility of parole was the proper punishment.

Now that the death penalty will not be an option for future crimes, Connecticut has distanced itself from countries with poor human rights records such as China, Iraq, and Iran. Speaking to reporters after the signing, which was attended by approximately 30 relatives of murder victims who supported the repeal, Malloy proclaimed that beside Japan. “All of the rest of the industrialized world has already taken the step that we've taken today,”