Key Connecticut Committee Approves Death Penalty Repeal Bill

On April 12, the Connecticut legislature's Judiciary Committee approved (26-17) a bill to repeal the death penalty for future crimes and replace the sentence with life without parole. Supporters of the bill said it would avoid the risk of wrongful executions and save taxpayers the costs of lengthy trials and appeals. Both supporters and opponents of capital punishment agreed that the state’s current system is not working. Sen. Eric Coleman said the state’s justice system “is not infallible.” He also noted that the state spends $3.4 million per year enforcing the death penalty. Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, there has only been one execution in Connecticut, an inmate who waived his appeals and hastened his execution. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. In March, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill repealing the death penalty in his state. Several other states have considered bills to repeal the death penalty during their 2011 legislative session, including Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

(J. Rabe, "Death penalty repeal bill approved by Judiciary Committee," Connecticut Mirror, April 12, 2011).  See Recent Legislative Activity.