Photo by Georgia Department of Corrections/Getty Images.
A bid to end capital punishment in Connecticut passed the state Senate early Thursday morning, clearing the way for the state to become the seventeenth to abolish the death penalty.
The Democratic-controlled Senate signed off on the bill, 20-16, despite two Democrats breaking with leadership and voting with a united Republican caucus against the bill. The Hartford Courant reports that the measure will now move to the House, where it is expected to pass easily. Gov. Dan Malloy has already vowed to sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk.
The measure would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole as the state's harshest punishment for future crimes. However, 11 prisoners currently on Connecticut's death row would not be grandfathered in and would still face execution. That includes two men convicted of a gruesome triple murder who have often been a centerpiece of the recent debate over the death penalty in the state.
As the Connecticut Mirror explains, Dr. William Petit, whose wife and two daughters were brutally murdered in a Cheshire home invasion, had advocated for the death penalty to remain on the books, and his wish had often cited by those against the repeal. Last year, a pair of Democrats seen as key swing votes scuttled passage of the repeal after refusing to back the effort while one of the two defendants was still awaiting trial.