Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy [official website] on Wednesday signed legislation [SB 280 materials] to repeal the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. The bill was approved by the House and the Senate [JURIST reports] earlier this month. Upon signing the legislation, Malloy stated [text]:
My position on the appropriateness of the death penalty in our criminal justice system evolved over a long period of time. 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. 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 law will take effect immediately but will not be applied retroactively to the 11 men currently on death row in the state. Connecticut has executed only one person since the federal moratorium on executions lapsed in 1981.
Connecticut becomes the seventeenth state to abolish the death penalty and the fifth to do so in the past five years. New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois [JURIST reports] have all recently eliminated the death penalty, while 34 states retain its use. Last year, the Connecticut Supreme Court did uphold the death penalty [JURIST report] as lawful under the state's constitution. The death penalty remains a controversial issue worldwide. According to an Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] report [text, PDF], the number of countries using the death penalty dropped in 2009 [JURIST report], but more than 700 people were executed in 18 countries, with the most executions carried out in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US.