Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law yesterday a repeal of Connecticut’s death penalty, making it the fifth state in five years to repeal the death penalty and the 17th state in the US to do away with capital punishment.
The law is effective immediately, but only applies to future cases, not to those already sitting on the state’s death row. The state’s highest punishment is now life in prison without possibility of parole.
The governor signed the legislation quietly, behind closed doors, calling the event “a moment for sober reflection, not celebration.” Malloy also cited the “unworkability” of capital punishment in the state.
“In the last 52 years, only two people have been put to death in Connecticut — and both of them volunteered for it,” Malloy said. “Instead, the people of this state pay for appeal after appeal, and then watch time and again as defendants are marched in front of the cameras, giving them a platform of public attention they don’t deserve.”
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, out of the 15 death sentences handed down in Connecticut since 1976, only one person has been executed. Convicted serial killer Michael Ross, who waived his appeals and volunteered for death, was executed by lethal injection in 2005.
At this point, I’m unclear on what the future holds for the 11 people on the state’s death row, whether their sentences will be commuted or they will remain in isolation on death row.