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Connecticut Ends The Death Penalty


Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has signed a repeal of the state’s death penalty into law. The signing ceremony took place Wednesday -  just hours after a new poll showed state voters split over an appropriate punishment for murder.

Governor Malloy signed the bill abolishing capital punishment in a private ceremony with lawmakers, clergy and family members of victims. 

In a written statement, the governor described how his position on the death penalty had evolved over the years. As a young man, Malloy said he was a death penalty supporter; but later as a prosecutor he learned that the justice system was imperfect. Malloy called Connecticut’s repeal of capital punishment in the state “an historic moment”, but also “a moment for sober reflection, not celebration”.  

Earlier Wednesday, a new Quinnipiac University poll found that Connecticut voters support the death penalty in general 62% to 30%.

But Poll director Doug Schwartz says voters split evenly when asked if they prefer punishing murderers with the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole.

"When you ask it that way, when you give people the alternative people are much more closely divided."  

Connecticut’s legislation ends capital punishment and makes the maximum sentence life in prison without the possibility of release for all future crimes. It does not affect the eleven inmates on the state’s death row. The bill is effective immediately. 

Connecticut becomes the 17th state in the nation to end the death penalty. 

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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