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Connecticut House passes death penalty repeal

The Connecticut House of Representatives [official website] voted late Wednesday to repeal the death penalty [SB 280 materials] by a vote of 86-63. The Connecticut Senate passed the bill last week [JURIST report]. After the bill's final passage, Governor Dannel Malloy (D) [official website] officially announced he will sign the bill [press release] immediately:

I'm pleased the House passed the bill, and when it gets to my desk I will sign it. I want to be careful in the tone of my remarks, out of respect for the gravity of the issue at hand and out of respect for people on both sides of the issue. When I sign this bill, Connecticut will join 16 other states and almost every other industrialized nation in moving toward what I believe is better public policy. For decades, we have not had a workable death penalty. Only one person's been executed in Connecticut in the last 52 years, and he volunteered for it. Going forward, we will have a system that allows us to put these people away for life, in living conditions none of us would want to experience. Le's throw away the key and have them spend the rest of their natural lives in jail.
Attempts to put the abolition decision to a referendum [Hartford Courant report] were squashed in the final vote on the bill. If the bill is passed, it will not be applied retroactively to the 11 men currently on death row in the state. It is unknown when Malloy will sign the bill.

Connecticut has executed only one person since the federal moratorium on executions lapsed in 1981. When the bill is signed into law, Connecticut will become 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.

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