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League of Women Voters Supports Abolition Bill

April 29, 2011

HARTFORD, Conn. – A bill to abolish the death penalty in Connecticut is heading for a vote in the Senate. The League of Women Voters of Connecticut is supporting the legislation after conducting a study of the issue.

Ellen McBride, the League's specialist on this topic, says her group favors life in prison without the possibility of release for murderers - which is what SB 1035 calls for. She says the death penalty is not applied consistently across race, gender and socioeconomic groups, includes the possibility of executing an innocent person, and subjects victims' families to years of living without closure.

"Until the death penalty is abolished, we support an immediate moratorium on executions."

Although support for the death penalty has grown in recent years among Connecticut voters, McBride claims one of the key rationales for that support is flawed.

"The death penalty has never been proven to be a deterrent to violent crime. That is one of the main reasons people want to keep the death penalty – but there is no evidence to show that."

She says Connecticut is one of many states where the League conducted studies, and two of them - Illinois and New Jersey - recently abolished their death penalty laws.

Connecticut lawmakers passed an identical bill in 2009, but it was vetoed by then-Governor Jodi Rell. O'Brien says a different outcome is expected this time.

"Governor Malloy has said if it does pass this time, he will sign the bill. So, we're very hopeful."

A summary of the study is at

Ten prisoners currently sit on death row in Connecticut. Their sentences would not be affected by an abolition law, nor would anyone charged with murder before the bill becomes law.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT