The Connecticut State Senate [official website] on Thursday passed SB 280 [text, PDF], a bill which would end the sentencing of future Connecticut criminals to the death penalty. The bill was passed by a vote of 20-16 and is expected to be passed by the Connecticut House of Representatives [official website] soon. Governor Dannel Malloy [official website] has promised to sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk. The bill upholds the sentence for any criminal who has already been sentenced to death prior to the date the bill is signed into law, but invalidates the sentence as an option for any future criminal cases heard in the state. The Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates the measure will save the state approximately $850,000 per year [report] "due to reduced litigation costs."
Connecticut has executed only one person since the federal moratorium on executions lapsed in 1981. If the bill is signed into law, Connecticut will become the fifth state in the past five years to abolish the death penalty. New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Illinois [JURIST reports] have all recently eliminated the death penalty, while 34 states retain its use. The death penalty remains a controversial issue worldwide. According to an Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] report [text, PDF], the number of countries using the death penalty dropped in 2009 [JURIST report], but more than 700 people were executed in 18 countries, with the most executions carried out in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US.