12 April 2012

Connecticut Will End State Law Death Penalty

The details are here. A bill passed by the state legislature will be signed signed by the Governor abolishing new death sentences under state law in Connecticut.

[The bill will] make Connecticut the 17th state — the 5th in five years — to abolish capital punishment for future cases. . . . [and] will leave New Hampshire and Pennsylvania as the only states in the Northeast that still have the death penalty. New Jersey repealed it in 2007. New York’s statute was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s highest court in 2004, and lawmakers have not moved to fix the law. . . . From 1639 to 2005, [Connecticut] performed 126 executions, first by hanging, then by the electric chair, and since 1973, by lethal injection. But since 1976, when the Supreme Court allowed the resumption of executions, there has been just one person executed in the state: Michael Bruce Ross, a serial killer who voluntarily gave up his right to further appeals and was put to death in 2005. The last person involuntarily put to death, in 1960, was Joseph (Mad Dog) Taborsky, who committed a string of robberies and killings.

The bill does not apply to "the 11 men currently on death row" in Connecticut, although it would provide considerable political cover for commutations of those sentences by the current Governor or a future one, and may color the way that the Courts evaluate those sentences.

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