Connecticut Governor Signs Bill to Repeal Death Penalty

By: Susan Haigh, Associated Press
By: Susan Haigh, Associated Press

Hartford, Connecticut (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy quietly signed a new law Wednesday that ends the state's death penalty for future crimes, making Connecticut the 17th state to abolish capital punishment.

The Democrat signed the bill behind closed doors, without fanfare. An aide said Malloy was surrounded by lawmakers, clergy and family members of murder victims.

While he called it "an historic moment," Malloy said in a written statement that it was a moment "for sober reflection, not celebration."

The bill, which became effective immediately, was signed on the same day that a new Quinnipiac University Poll showed that 62 percent of registered voters in Connecticut still favor the death penalty for those convicted of murder. The same survey found 47 percent of voters disapprove of Malloy's handling of the issue, while 33 percent approve.

"Many of us who have advocated for this position over the years have said there is a moral component to our opposition to the death penalty. For me, that is certainly the case," he said. "But that does not mean - nor should it mean - that we question the morality of those who favor capital punishment. I certainly don't."

Amnesty International USA praised Malloy for signing the bill. Connecticut joins 16 other states and the District of Columbia.

"Lawmakers in Connecticut finally saw the death penalty for what it is - a barbaric and irreversible punishment that does nothing to stop crime nor its victims," said Suzanne Nossel, the organization's executive director, who credited the family members of murder victims for supporting the legislation and working to get the bill passed.

A former prosecutor, Malloy said he used to support the death penalty but his position evolved over the years.

"I learned firsthand that our system of justice is very imperfect," he said, adding how he saw people who were poorly served by their lawyers, wrongly accused or mistakenly identified, as well as discriminated against.

"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," Malloy said.

Earlier this month, the Democratic-controlled General Assembly passed legislation repealing the death penalty for only future crimes and not the 11 men currently on Connecticut's death row. The legislation requires that people convicted under the new law would be subject to prison conditions similar to those now experienced by condemned inmates.

Opponents of the repeal legislation included Dr. William Petit Jr., the only survivor of a 2007 home invasion in which two paroled burglars killed his wife and two daughters. Last year, Petit successfully lobbied state senators to hold off on repeal legislation while one of the two killers was still facing a death penalty trial.

In more than half a century, Connecticut has executed only one person - serial killer Michael Ross, who volunteered for the lethal injection in 2005.

The Quinnipiac Poll also showed that 51 percent of voters disapprove of the legislature's handling of the issue, compared to 29 percent who approve. Asked, however, about which type of punishment they prefer for convicted murderers - the death penalty or life in prison without chance of parole - registered voters were split, 46 percent to 46 percent.

The telephone survey of 1,745 voters has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

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  • by Trina on Apr 29, 2012 at 05:25 AM
    What we need to do is change the appeal process. Murderers need to die. Life sentences must mean they live the rest of their lives in their home of choice, the majority have been in and out of prison already. If a murderer is found guilty, give him 30 days to get his affairs in order (that's 30 more than he/she gave the victims). Then his/her pi** poor life should END. All these bleeding hearts is WHY there is so much crime. Bring back punishment instead of coddling and watch crime go down.
  • by Ex LEO Location: Tally on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:28 AM
    Well Florida did the same thing years ago when we had a bleeding heart governor. Florida brought back the death penalty JUST IN TIME for ted bundy. Kinda makes you happy to live in Florida.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 28, 2012 at 04:55 AM in reply to Ex LEO
      I guess you're talking about Reubin Askew, since executions resumed under Bob Graham in 1979. What are you trying to say about Askew? Askew was governor in 1972 when the SCOTUS invalidated all death penalty statutes. On another matter, have you noticed that you have a tendency to repeat yourself?
      • reply
        by Chicken Gutz on May 1, 2012 at 05:41 PM in reply to
        With Ex LEO's capacity for fewer than five thoughts what do you expect. He makes hoodrat steeve look like a Harvard professor.
  • by Maya Location: Tallahassee on Apr 25, 2012 at 06:03 PM
    Capital punishment is too expensive. Let's use that money for children that need food and health care and leave the criminals that deserve it in jail for the rest of their lives.
    • reply
      by Ex LEO on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM in reply to Maya
      Only one problem with that thought. It costs about $80,000 a year to baby sit our criminals. Wouldn't that buy a lot of baby food?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 29, 2012 at 05:28 AM in reply to Maya
      Many criminals have baby mommas on the State's dime already. They get our money while young and in their "hotel" of DOC's choice.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 25, 2012 at 03:12 PM
    The US repealed the death penalty for wealthy criminals long ago.
    • reply
      by Ex LEO on Apr 27, 2012 at 10:35 AM in reply to
      Just think, it takes about 20 years or more to bring justic to a death row criminal. At $80,000 a year to keep the perp that averages out to $1.6 million. So we do execute wealthy perps.
  • by Abnormalous on Apr 25, 2012 at 02:55 PM
    OK guys. You want to get away with murder go to Connecticut.
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