After a marathon session of debate, the Connecticut Senate passed a bill early on Thursday morning abolishing the death penalty, making the state all but certain to end capital punishment within weeks.
Connecticut would be the 17th state to repeal the death penalty and the first since Illinois ended the practice in August 2011.
The vote, which ended 20-16 in favor of repeal, was the largest remaining hurdle for the new law. According to the Hartford Courant, the bill has wide backing in the House of Representatives, while Gov. Daniel Malloy’s support of repeal has been unequivocal.
“I want to be very clear that if such a bill was to come to me, I will sign it,” Malloy said, according to The Day last month. “We do not have a workable death penalty in the state of Connecticut today. Period.”
Connecticut currently has 11 death row inmates. The bill passed by the Senate would only apply to future convictions, a compromise that allowed several previously opposed lawmakers to back to the repeal. But Chief Public Defender Susan O. Storey and Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane stated in a hearing last month that the repeal would make execution of the current inmates unlikely.
In response to that reality, the Senate passed an amendment to the bill that will impose tougher punishments on inmates sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Such restrictions, including near-solitary confinement, frequent cell moves and strict monitoring, were designed to “essentially replicate life on death row.”