On Wednesday, Connecticut became the fifth state since 2004 to outlaw the death penalty. Governor Dan Malloy signed the death penalty repeal into law in a small private ceremony in the capital of Hartford.
The bill replaces capital punishment in the state with life imprisonment without the opportunity of parole.
Malloy, a former prosecutor, has been an outspoken advocate against capital punishment. He said current death row inmates are not included in the repeal, but are more likely to die of old age. Some legal experts say these inmates can even use the repeal to appeal their sentences.
A recent Quinnipiac poll showed Connecticut voters were split on whether a person convicted of murder should face the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole. Overall, the poll showed 62 percent of Connecticut voters support the death penalty in general.
"The death penalty is a complex issue for voters, and for pollsters," said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD. "Connecticut voters want to keep the death penalty, perhaps as an option for the most heinous crimes, such as the Cheshire murders."
In 2010, Steven Hayes was convicted of the murder of a mother and her two daughters during a 2007 home invasion in Cheshire, Conn. Hayes was sentenced to death in arguably the most widely publicized trial in the state's history.
Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey and New York have all outlawed capital punishment since 2004. In total, 16 states and the District of Colombia consider the death penalty illegal. Voters in California will decide in November whether their own state will continue with the practice.
by RTT Staff Writer
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