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State House Of Representatives To Vote On Death Penalty Repeal


Members of Connecticut’s House of Representatives are set to debate a bill to abolish the state’s death penalty.

Death penalty opponents, including families of murder victims, gathered at the Capitol this morning and urged lawmakers to pass the legislation.

Dawn Mancarella spoke on behalf of the more than 170 victims’ families in Connecticut who support a repeal of the state’s death penalty.

"My mother Joyce Masury was murdered on January 13th, 1996.  She was strangled to death in her home by a man she knew and trusted. Last year, I became active with the effort to repeal the death penalty because my experience with the criminal justice system taught me that the death penalty does not help victims’ families."

She said there were many reasons to oppose the death penalty, and that some families do not believe death penalty brings closure or justice.

"These are elusive terms that cannot compete with the violent horrific loss of a murdered loved one. Nor will they bring that loved one back to us."

Also speaking out against capitol punishment was Fernando Bermudez. After 18 years in a maximum security prison he was found innocent.

"It took 11 appeals. 11 appeals which made me see evil first hand in maximum security prisons. And yet which by my wit, faith and determination and hope, I finally survived to testify that our criminal justice system is imperfect. I think today Connecticut is on the verge of making its most important decision yet in reforming its old system and bringing in the new."

The bill would end capital punishment for all future crimes. 

Last week, the state Senate approved the measure. It's expected to pass the House, and Governor Dannel Malloy has pledged to sign the death penalty repeal bill into law.

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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