HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut has recently become the 17th state to repeal the death penalty. Lawmakers passed the measure with an 86-62 vote in favor of repealing the death penalty in the state.
Now instead of sentencing some violent offenders to death, the state will grant life in prison without the possibility of parole. There are currently 11 inmates who sit on death row in the state, and unfortunately for them this new measure does not free them of their sentence.
The bill will still recognize the sentences made prior to the recent vote and will not take the capital punishment verdict off the table for those inmates currently sitting on death row.
While many supported the bill, there was also strong opposition from those in favor of the death penalty. Some lawmakers thought the death penalty was suitable for those convicted of heinous crimes in the state — but those in favor of the repeal voiced their satisfaction and believe the punishment still fits the crime.
“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. Let’s throw away the key and have them spend the rest of the natural lives in jail,” said Conn. Governor Dannel P. Malloy in a statement released after the Senate voted for repealing the death penalty.
The death penalty has been a form of sentencing since 1639 — first by hanging, then the electric chair, and since 1973, by lethal injection. The new bill will leave only New Hampshire and Pennsylvania with the death penalty in the Northeast.
The death penalties carried out by the state of Connecticut only amount to the loss of one life since 1960. Confessed serial killer, Michael Bruce Ross was put to death in 2005 after he spent 18 years on death row awaiting his execution.
By repealing the death penalty the state will likely save money from housing inmates on death row. New Hampshire — one of the two states in the Northeast that still has the death penalty — has already cost New Hampshire taxpayers over $5 million for their single inmate on death row. The costs add up to more than it would cost to house the same inmate in general population for 100 years, according to the American Friends Service Committee who issue several reports on criminal justice in the U.S.
The death penalty is a constant source of debate, but with Connecticut being the fifth state in five years to repeal the death penalty, many of those in favor of abolishing the death penalty are hopeful that a nationwide trend will occur.