RECENT LEGISLATION: Connecticut Senate Votes to Repeal Death Penalty

On April 5, the state senate in Connecticut approved (20-16) a bill to repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without a parole. The bill is prospective and would not affect the 11 inmates currently on death row. The senate passed an amendment to the original repeal bill requiring future defendants convicted of murder with special circumstances to be subject to the same confinement conditions as current death row inmates. Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Miford, a former supporter of the death penalty, remarked, “For me, the most compelling reason to reject the death penalty is to set ourselves on the path to the kind of society we really want for our future,” she said. “I want something better for our future,” Slossberg added. “We cannot confront darkness with darkness and expect light.” Before the vote, Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, (pictured) who led the debate in favor of repeal, said, “Today is a dramatic and potentially historic day because the Senate has … an opportunity to correct the arbitrariness, the discrimination, the random haphazard approach to the application of our death penalty in this state.” If passed by the House and signed into law, both of which appear likely, Connecticut would become the fifth state in five years to abandon capital punishment.

Connecticut has carried out only one execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. In 2005, Michael Ross abandoned his appeals and volunteered for execution.

(D. Ariosto, “Connecticut may be latest state to repeal death penalty,” CNN Justice; D. Altimari, “Death Penalty Repeal Clears Biggest Hurdle; Senate Passes Bill, 20-16,” Hartford Courant, April 5, 2012). See Recent Legislative Activity and Connecticut.