Connecticut religious leaders opposed to capital punishment pray outside… (Jessica Hill / Associated…)
Early Thursday morning, after many hours of debate, the Connecticut state Senate voted 20 to 16 to approve a bill that would repeal the death penalty, positioning the state to be the 17th in the country to do so.
The bill, which passed at 2:05 a.m., would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release for those convicted of capital offenses in the future, the Hartford Courant reported. The 11 men on Connecticut's death row would still face execution.
Death penalty opponents watched the vote closely, staying up all night for the final results.
“Connecticut's death penalty is a disaster. It fails to meet the needs of victims' families,” Equal Justice USA, a national grass-roots organization that opposes the death penalty said on its website. “It doesn't keep us any safer. It's unfair. It's risky. ... But this junkshow of a system is finally backed into a corner. Now we just have to finish it off!”
The bill will move to the state’s House of Representatives, where it has considerable support, and Gov. Dannel Malloy has agreed to sign the bill if it lands on his desk, the Courant reported.
Connecticut would become the fifth state in five years to repeal the death penalty -- a move that could cause other states to move in the same direction, Richard Dieter, executive director of the independent Death Penalty Information Center, said in an interview.
"For this to be happening in succession, and coupled with the decline in death penalty convictions, it creates a momentum that other states will at least consider to be a part of,” Dieter told the Los Angeles Times.
The state joined 16 others who have repealed or suspended the death penalty and has only had one capital punishment death since 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
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