After a vote in its Senate on Thursday, Connecticut is set to end the death penalty, although those currently on death row will still face execution. The state would become the 17th state to abolish capital punishment.
Since 2007, the death penalty has been abolished in four states (New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Illinois). In November, California voters will be asked in a ballot measure to end state executions. Even in states that still allow the practice, the number of state-sanctioned killings has dropped by about half since 1999.
This is good news. The death penalty is immoral. No one has the right to deliberately take someone else’s life. So let’s keep the momentum going, to end capital punishment in the United States.
The 20-16 vote came at 2:05 a.m., after more than 10 hours of debate. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass easily. Governor Dannel P. Malloy has pledged to sign the bill once it reaches his desk.
The fate of the repeal drive was sealed earlier this week, when several one-time supporters of capital punishment indicated they were switching their stance. Several of them spoke, often in bluntly personal terms, in the floor of the chamber.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Senator Edith Prague explained why she is now backing a bill that would abolish capital punishment in Connecticut and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of release.
From The Hartford Courant:
“I cannot stand the thought of being responsible for someone being falsely accused and facing the death penalty,” Prague said, speaking slowly and deliberately as her colleagues listened. “For me this is a moral issue…I don’t want to be part of a system that sends innocent people..to the death penalty.”
Like Prague, Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Miford, said she has spent many sleepless nights wrestling with the moral implications of capital punishment. “Does a moral society execute people?” she asked. “Haven’t we then become the evil we’re trying to eliminate?”
Slossberg had been a defender of the death penalty but she, too, has come to reassess her position. “For me, the most compelling reason to reject the death penalty is to set ourselves on the path to the kind of society we really want for our future,” she said.
“I want something better for our future,” Slossberg added. “We cannot confront darkness with darkness and expect light.”
Thank you, Senator Slossberg, for these powerful words.
The bill would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release. It stipulates that the 11 men currently on Connecticut’s death row would still face execution; capital punishment would only be abolished for those convicted of capital offenses in the future.
The measure passed largely along party lines, with two Democrats, Paul Doyle and Joan Hartley, joining the Republicans in rejecting the bill.
It’s a good day for justice in the state of Connecticut.