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(New York) — Amnesty International USA today praised the Connecticut House of Representatives for voting to abolish the death penalty and urged Gov. Daniel P. Malloy to keep his promise and sign Senate Bill 280 into law, making Connecticut the 17th U.S. state to abolish the death penalty.
With Governor Malloy's signature, Connecticut will join two thirds of all nations (141) and nearly one-third of the U.S. states (currently 16) that have eliminated this cruel and irrevocable punishment. Amnesty International's recent global death penalty survey placed the United States among the top five countries that continue to execute prisoners, with China, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. The vote was 82-62.
"The death penalty is the ultimate affront to human rights – an inhuman and irreversible punishment in a mistake-prone judicial system," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. "The Connecticut Legislature has shown great political courage and leadership by abandoning a practice that most countries that respect human rights reject. We are confident more states will follow its lead. If we say a government is wrong to torture, how can we then justify giving our governments the power to kill prisoners?
Amnesty International said Connecticut could better use funds spent in capital trials on policies that make the public safer by preventing and solving crimes support the families of victims.
"Millions of dollars are wasted every year on capital punishment," said Nossel. "This money is desperately needed to prevent and solve crimes, especially given that about one-third of all homicides in the United States go unsolved every year."
In the lead up to the legislative vote, Amnesty International activists statewide called, wrote and visited lawmakers in Connecticut in support of the bill.
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 said repeal of the death penalty in Connecticut is part of a clear trend away from capital punishment in the United States and throughout the world. Death sentences in the United States have plunged in the last decade to historic lows – largely due to the public's increased awareness about glaring flaws inherent to capital punishment. One hundred and forty people have been exonerated from U.S. death rows.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.