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Death Penalty: No
Bear Mountain. Public domain photo.
In colonial Connecticut, capital crimes included idolatry, witchcraft, and blasphemy.
The first person executed for witchcraft in what is now the United States was Achsah Young, who was executed in Hartford in 1647.
In 1786, Hannah Occuish, a 12-year-old Native American girl, was hanged in New London for the murder of a young white girl. She may have been the youngest person ever executed in the United States.
The last person executed in Connecticut who had exhausted all appeals was Frank Wojulewicz, who was executed in 1959 for murdering a police officer and bystander while committing a robbery. The two men executed since then both dropped appeals and "volunteered" for execution.
Connecticut is one of five states that gives clemency authority to a board, rather than the governor. No death row prisoner was granted clemency during the period in which the death penalty had been reinstated.
Milestones in Abolition/Reinstatement
In 2009, the Connecticut legislature passed a bill to abolish the death penalty, but the bill was vetoed by Governor M. Jodi Rell.
In 2012, Connecticut abolished the death penalty for future crimes. Eleven men remained on death row until 2015, when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 4-3 in State v. Santiago that the death penalty violated the state constitution. The Court resentenced the remaining death row prisoners to life without parole. However, after one of the justices in the Santiago majority left the Court, prosecutors sought and were granted permission to re-open the issue. On May 26, 2016, in State v. Peeler, the Court reaffirmed its holding in Santiago by a vote of 5-2.
Other interesting facts
Connecticut has only carried out one execution since the reinstatement of the death penalty. Michael Ross was executed by lethal injection in 2005 after giving up his appeals.