Connecticut Death Penalty Abolished! (California Next?)

death penalty abolished in connecticut

With his signature, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law the repeal of Connecticut’s death penalty, making his state the 17th, and the 5th in the last 5 years, to do away with capital punishment.  The law is not retroactive, so 11 men remain on Connecticut’s death row.

It is surely a sign of progress for the death penalty abolition movement that such a success could occur in the midst of contentious and escalating election year politics.  Previous legislative repeal victories have occurred during the more sedate odd-numbered years (New Jersey, 2007; New Mexico, 2009, Illinois, 2011).

And Connecticut’s repeal may not be the only one that takes place in 2012; an initiative to replace California’s death penalty garnered 800,000 petition signatures and and has qualified to be on the November 6 ballot in our largest state.

Of course, 33 U.S. states still retain capital punishment. But actual use of the death penalty in many of these states is pretty rare, and even in capital punishment hotbeds like Texas or Ohio, sentences and executions are declining  and opposition is growing.

Objections to the death penalty vary: for some there is just no place for an irreversible punishment in a mistake-prone judicial system; for others, the death penalty harms victims’ families, turning killers into celebrities and making the families of victims wait years (usually decades) for a promised punishment that most likely will never be implemented; for others it wastes time and money that could be put to better use preventing crimes, or at least solving them (about one-third of homicides go unsolved each year).

For Amnesty International, the death penalty is, simply, a fundamental violation of human rights.  Protecting human rights means limiting government power.  Ceding to a government the power to kill a prisoner is every bit as wrong (and dangerous) as ceding that government the power to torture.  Proceeding with such an absolute punishment despite knowing how error-prone the system is makes the act of execution even more inhumane.  And continuing to dump massive amounts of money into the death penalty, when those funds are desperately needed for policies that could genuinely protect society and support crime victims is beyond wasteful.

During Connecticut’s experience with the death penalty there were over 4,000 murders and exactly one execution, of a man who voluntarily gave up his appeals.  During the same time, more than 1,000 murders went unsolved.  Nationally, in 2008, there were 16,272 murders but just 37 executions, while 5,858 murders went unsolved (more than 150 unsolved homicides for every execution).   In a world of shrinking budgets, for the sake of victims’ families and public safety, what should the priorities be?

In California, since 1978, $4 billion has been spent on the death penalty, or over $300 million for each one of that state’s 13 executions.  Meanwhile, 46% of the state’s homicides (and 56% of rapes) go unsolved, and due to budget cuts students (particularly students of color) are being locked out of the state’s universities.

Connecticut has done the right thing for human rights, not only by ending the practice of sentencing prisoners to death, but by freeing up resources that can now be focused on policies that may actually do some good.  Later this year, voters in California will get the chance to do the same.

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41 thoughts on “Connecticut Death Penalty Abolished! (California Next?)

  1. Congratulations to Governor Malloy and the State of Connecticut: now a full 1/3 of the 50 States are abolitionist, and indeed let’s hope that California is next on November 6!

  2. I’m very dissapointed ! I support the death penalty ! These are convicted murderers ! They killed people if not multiple people ! They deprived their victims and victims families ! Why should they live ? Eye for eye ! You kill you will be killed ! I hope ca voters know better ! Why on earth are u going to bat to very evil people who need not walk this earth !

    Their victims are dead , so should they be !

    No way do u have my support

  3. Brilliant news! No one, absolutely no one has the right to take a life and that includes those who hide within the legal system – makes them no less guilty of murder by demanding the life of another person.

  4. Beautiful news. In response to “Kathryn” of course I don’t agree with you but just to correct your bible quotation there, “an eye for an eye” was said indeed, in exodus. But if we’re following Christianity it was in quoted by Jesus in many books of the new testament, from sermon on the mount
    You have heard that it was said,
    “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
    But I say to you turn the other cheek. Go two miles. Give to the one who begs. Love your enemies.
    Matthew 5.38-48[1]

    of course there’s lots more about forgiveness and “let him who hath never sinned cast the first stone”.

  5. Abolition of the death penalty in California is a real possibility. However, to ensure this success we all hve to pitch in and give the replacement of the death penalty our full concentrated effort in supporting the S.A.F.E. CA campaign by seeking endorsements of the campaign, holding House Parties to raise funds and spreading the word.

    If California votes to end the death penalty on Novemembr 6th it will be the beginning of the end of the death penalty in the United States.

  6. If you abolish the death penalty again, the murders or capital murders will go up 200%. Keep the death penalty as its only a right to do what the death row inmate did to get the death penalty.

    • That is completely untrue. In 2000, 10 of the 12 states that had abolished the death penalty had LOWER homicide rates than those with death penalty. Where did you even get 200%?

      • He made it up! 200%?@#!!? Unfortunately, like most of the arguments supporting the death penalty are, something lawyers do, courts do.

        "Ain't nothing more dangerous than a fool with a cause" ….."A Time to Kill"

    • The old saying, two wrongs do NOT make a right. Every human deserves to keep the right to live. If our country kills people, no matter the reason, who is going to be the moral leader?? No person, no government, and no organization has the right to take a human being's life.

    • You're a dumbass…people are people half the inmates on deathrow are in for a missunderstanding. One day you'll understand you prejudice fuck.

  7. New Jersey abolished capital punishment in 2007, and for the next two years (at least), the state government reported that homicides had gone DOWN. So it would seem that the deterrent effect the death penalty has on murder rates is, at best, negligible—and that other, more proactive crime-prevention programs have a bigger impact.

  8. Concern is growing for three human rights defenders being held incommunicado at a military base near Damascus, amid reports they may be facing ongoing torture

  9. hi guys wat u are talking about is nothing to do with amnesty so can you plze go

  10. The six men – prisoners of conscience accused of “having an illegal recording with a view to distribute banned publications. lucky for then

  11. Connecticut has NOT abolished the death penalty as it has inmates on death row who are unaffected by the change in the law. So for them, the appeals will continue, and all the reasons that were given for "abolishing" the death penalty will remain until the last of them die or get their sentences commuted.

    NOTHING WAS ABOLISHED, and DITTO for New Mexico.

    • That's stupid dude it was abolished but it is not retroactive. Meaning any cases already charged cant be overturned (unless they still have appeals left). Any new case cannot end in death.

  12. Sorta abolishing the death penalty is like sorta being pregnant.

  13. I feel that the death penalty is a horrible punishment. I don't care what the crime is, death is NOT the answer! I think that punishments should be increased based on the nature of the crime, but death should NOT be dealt out like those other punishments. I'm sure a rare case of someone doing really, really, horrible things will come along some day, and death will seem an appropriate punishment, but until they come along, abolish the death penalty!

  14. Claire, Im just wondering what you would consider really really horrible? If you go and read some of the stories of these crimes or actually meet some of the victim's families they will tell you how really really horrible the crimes were to them. I do volunteer work in prisons and jails all over and I know that some can be rehabilitated but others do not need to have any chance of getting out. Would you want some of these men and women living in your neighborhood or taking care of your children? Just food for thought.

    • Claire is right about the death penalty being too far….but there have been horrible crimes done to deserve death. However the death penalty solves nothing at all, if the victims family wishes to see the killer die then they're just as bad as the killer himself/herself.

    • I'm sure we can put our heads together and come up with more than the two presented options: Death or taking care our children.

  15. I got a feeling your organization swings so far left though,,it thinks jprison time is cruel and unusual punishment! I just feel it comeing like to see your whole agenda!!!!

  16. If Amnesty is for human rights – what is their stance on being anti murder, rape, child molestation? How much donated money have they spent to reduce murder, policing our nations ensuring reduced rape rates? If they are for criminals' rights, what about victims rights not to be victims of criminal activity?

    Their stance on prison reform is basically to build a bunch of Holiday Inns and put fences around them.

  17. I am very proud that Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy repealed Connecticut’s death penalty, we need to do away with capital punishment and preserve human rights. Too bad that the law is not retroactive, meaning that 11 men that are on death row will still serve their penalty. Could California be next to repeal the death penalty? Maybe in a couple of years but jail system is are already over crowded.

  18. I am a student from the uk and am currently researching into the death penalty and how people feel regarding abolishment of the death penalty, I am against the death penalty but am open to peoples opinions regarding support for the death penalty, if anyone would be willing to reply with any information or feelings towards the issue please reply, thankyou.

  19. I am totally anti DP because of wrongful convictions and disproportionate use against the poor, those with mental health and substance abuse issues and other socio-economic issues not to mention the complication of political connotations. But many, many of these inmates have committed heinous crimes on children, the elderly, ordinary men and women, subjecting many of their victims to horrendous torture, kidnap and sexual assaults. I and many others by all accounts accept that we should do away with the DP to protect the innocent on DR however AI should also accept that these people have to be punished. I believe in LWOP if only just to incapacitate those who pose a danger to our society. Rehabilitation should not be the main concern of lawyers, politicians and activists when the safety of many are in danger. While I welcome these anti-DP developments, soft sentencing will just incense the public and lead to a demand once again, in a return to more retributive sentencing, just like the DP, and will reverse all the work done to reach this point.

  20. connecticut should have the death penalty it may stop total crime but it DOES keep some people in check, and thats some people who think twice before they act! WE NEED THE DEATH PENALTY, weather people like it or not its NEEDED! People who've commited a serious crime such as murder should be punished and it should be harsh, dont pull this mentally impared crap on me cause that dont matter…. that shit dont flush.familys need the closure of their loved ones recieving justice.

    • I'm not sure of your religious affiliation, if any but the preservation of life is primary to all. Thou shalt not kill is not arbitrary, it applies to all of us. The US cannot take moral high ground in the world whilst clinging to archaic punishments. We can't have it both ways. One last food for thought is what about those few innocent people put to death due to errors or prosecutorial misconduct? It has happened. If they are imprisoned there is a chance to "make it right!" Once you are dead, my dear you are dead.

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