Connecticut Supreme Court: State May Not Kill Death Row Inmates Following Repeal of Death Penalty

Affiliate: ACLU of Connecticut
August 13, 2015 12:30 pm

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The ACLU of Connecticut applauded this morning’s state Supreme Court decision holding that the Connecticut Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment forbids the state from executing any prisoners.

The court declared that following the prospective repeal of the death penalty, execution of prisoners “no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any penological purpose.”

The decision means Connecticut may not execute the 11 men currently on death row.

David McGuire, Legislative and Policy Director of the ACLU of Connecticut said, “This decision reflects an evolving norm against the death penalty. There are better ways to punish. Too often, the death penalty is applied arbitrarily and in a racially biased manner. This is a decision that falls on the right side of history.”

The Supreme Court decision settles legislation that prospectively abolished capital punishment for crimes committed after April 25, 2012. The ACLU of Connecticut argued that fundamental fairness prevents the state from unconditionally abolishing the death penalty for all future crimes while continuing to apply it to those who were in prison during its repeal.

The court concluded the death penalty violated the state’s constitution on account of “the freakishness with which the sentence of death is imposed; the rarity with which it is carried out; and the racial, ethnic, and socio-economic biases that likely are inherent in any discretionary death penalty system.”

Dan Barrett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Connecticut said, “This decision is a breath of fresh air in death penalty litigation nationwide because it conclusively determines that the killing of prisoners falls beneath standards of American justice.”

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