Connecticut Abolished the Death Penalty

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On Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, the state of Connecticut became the seventeenth state to abolish the death penalty in the past six years. When Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed the bill into law last April, the Governor made his state the 17th in the nation to abandon capital punishment and the fifth in five years to usher in a repeal. The law was effective immediately, though prospective in nature, meaning that it would not apply to those already sentenced to death. It replaced the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of release as the state’s highest form of punishment.

“Although it is an historic moment — Connecticut joins 16 other states and the rest of the industrialized world by taking this action — it is a moment for sober reflection, not celebration,” Malloy said in a statement. He added that the “unworkability” of Connecticut’s death penalty law was a contributing factor in his decision.

Activists know that human rights victories only come after years of hard work. Yesterday a simple stroke of the Governor Dannel Malloy’s pen sealed the deal to end the death penalty in Connecticut, but that state’s remarkable achievement for human rights was decades in the making. In the last six years, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Illinois have repealed the death penalty. State by state, the battle against capital punishment marches on in our nation.

The American criminal justice system is based on guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s the foundation of our justice system, built to serve and protect the wrongly accused. But in the case of countless death penalty cases such as Troy Davis, it’s a principle that was defied, ignored, and trampled on. As Troy Davis wrote in a letter when he was facing execution in 2008 :” … no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis across our nation. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe.”

With the recent decisions to abolish the death penalty in Maryland and Connecticut, we have moved several steps closer to dismantling our unjust criminal justice system city by city, state by state and country by country. Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been seeking to do just that for decades. Specifically, these organizations have been quite successful in raising awareness about the problems with criminal justice system and the need to end the death penalty. Next stop for the abolition of the death penalty nationwide is Delaware. The struggle continues. But with each victory, we, as a nation, come closer to a world where human rights are respected, and executions are a thing of the past.

For further information on how you can get involved in efforts to end the penalty nationwide, please visit the websites for Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Equal Justice USA, and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

Sources: Amnesty International, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Connecticut State Death Penalty Abolition, CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/25/justice/connecticut-death-penalty-law-repealed/index.html. Equal Justice USA. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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