CONNECTICUT (USA): DEATH PENALTY REPEAL BILL APPROVED BY JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
April 12, 2011: The legislature's Judiciary Committee approved 26-17 a bill that would abolish in Connecticut the death penalty, replacing it with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release.
This marks the second time in three years that lawmakers have considered repealing the death penalty. In 2009, both chambers passed a similar bill but it was vetoed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Her successor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is an opponent of the death penalty and has said he will sign a repeal bill should one reach his desk.
Supporters of the repeal listed a number of reasons why Connecticut should join Illinois, New Jersey and New Mexico in abolishing the death penalty. They cited the enormous amount of time it takes to execute a prisoner in this state, the painful toll that endless appeals take on the families of murder victims, instances of racial bias in implementing the death penalty and the fact that a mistake can lead to the execution of an innocent person.
But Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, said lawmakers ultimately should view the issue as a matter of conscience. He invoked former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, who announced he would "no longer tinker with the machinery of death." "This, after all is said and done, is ... a matter of conscience of each individual legislator," said Meyer, who voted to support the repeal. Rep. Al Adinolfi, R-Cheshire, disagreed. He said lawmakers shouldn't rely on their own conscience, but rather the will of their constituents.
The proposal now heads to the state House of Representatives, where it is also expected to pass. The vote in the state Senate is expected to be close.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, only one person has been executed in Connecticut: Michael Ross, who voluntarily suspended all appeals in his case. (Source: Connecticut Mirror, The Hartford Courant, 12/04/2011)