On June 5, Connecticut’s Governor, Jodi Rell, made good on her promise to veto legislation that would have abolished the death penalty in that state. The Governor had expressed her opposition to the measure all along and issued her promised veto last week. Supporters in the General Assembly said they did not have the two-thirds majority of votes to override the veto. The bill, repealing Connecticut’s death penalty and replacing it with life in prison, passed 19-17 in the Senate and 90-56 in the House last month. Connecticut has 10 death row inmates and has only executed one inmate since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed for the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976.
Despite having a brand new Executive Director and a Governor who maintained her steadfast support of the death penalty, the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty (CNADP) rallied the people of Connecticut from all across the state to speak out for repeal. The network organized murder victim family members to speak out about how the death penalty fails to meet the needs of victims. Law enforcement held their own press conference saying it was not a worthwhile law enforcement tool and a waste of resources in these hard economic times. Attorneys reminded the lawmakers that only a month had passed since a wrongful conviction for murder was exposed after more than a decade. The national NAACP teamed up with the state group to highlight Connecticut’s failure to address its troubled history with race and the death penalty. And, three times as many people contacted the Governor in support of the bill compared to those who opposed.
In just a few weeks, the citizens of Connecticut almost abolished the death penalty, demonstrating that when enough people speak and act, lawmakers listen. Though abolition didn’t happen this year, Connecticut is positioned to make abolition a reality in the very near future. Congratulation to the CNADP and the citizens of Connecticut for taking a stand to end this failed system.
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