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Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]

(New York)  Amnesty International USA today applauded the Connecticut State Senate for passing Senate Bill 280, which repeals the death penalty in Connecticut.

"Connecticut's lawmakers have done the right thing and shown great leadership on advancing human rights in that state," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. "More than two-thirds of the countries of the world — and nearly a third of all U.S. 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 International 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.
"These funds can be better spent to address crime and offer support to victims, rather than on supporting a punishment that has been rejected by more than 140 countries and 16 U.S. states," said Nossel.

Amnesty International activists statewide called, wrote and visited lawmakers in Connecticut in support of the bill, which passed after ten and a half hours of debate by a 20 to 16 vote.

If approved by the House and signed by Governor Malloy — as he promised to do — Connecticut would become the 17th state in the United States 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 said the development in Connecticut is part of a clear trend away from capital punishment in the United States and throughout the world. This year's annual survey of the death penalty worldwide showed only a handful of countries — China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States — account for the largest number of executions. 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.