A vote to repeal the death penalty by the US state of Connecticut’s State Senate is a leap forward in the battle to end capital punishment, says Amnesty International.
The vote - by 20 votes to 16 - was passed on 5 April after ten and a half hours of debate. If approved by the House of Representatives and signed by Governor Malloy, Connecticut will become the 17th state in the USA to abolish the death penalty.
Studies show that capital punishment in Connecticut is plagued by bias and imposed in an arbitrary way. The relatives of 179 murder victims signed a letter of support for the bill.
Amnesty International USA executive director Suzanne Nossel said:“Connecticut’s lawmakers have done the right thing and shown great leadership on advancing human rights in that state.
“Ninety-seven countries worldwide - and nearly a third of all US states - have now abandoned the death penalty. By joining their ranks, Connecticut would contribute to the momentum that will make this cruel and irreversible punishment a thing of the past.
“We urge the Connecticut House of Representatives to pass this bill swiftly and send it to Governor Malloy for his signature.”
Amnesty said ending the death penalty will free resources in Connecticut to be directed toward policies that truly prevent crime and support the needs of crime victims and their families.
Suzanne Nossel added:“These funds can be better spent to address crime and offer support to victims, rather than on bankrolling a punishment that has been rejected by more than 140 countries and 16 US states.”
Death sentences in the USA have plunged to historic lows in the last decade, largely due to the public’s increased awareness about glaring flaws inherent in capital punishment. Since 1973, 140 people on death row in the USA have been exonerated. Meanwhile, Amnesty’s recent annual report on the death penalty worldwide showed that only a small number of countries still use the death penalty, and of these a handful of countries - China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the USA - account for the largest number of executions.