Connecticut Supreme Court Rules Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional


The Connecticut Supreme Court yesterday declared the death penalty unconstitutional, writing that it has become “incompatible with contemporary standards of decency in Connecticut.”

In reaching this determination, the Court detailed the state’s “troubled history with capital punishment” including “the freakishness with which the sentence of death is imposed; the rarity with which it is carried out; and the racial, ethnic, and socio-economic biases that likely are inherent in any discretionary death penalty system.” As a result, the Court determined that Connecticut’s death penalty “no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose.”

The court’s ruling applies Connecticut’s 2012 law abolishing capital punishment to the eleven people sentenced to death prior to 2012.

The opinion is significant to the national debate about the death penalty because it continues the country’s trend away from capital punishment and echoes fundamental questions about the constitutionality of the death penalty raised by two United States Supreme Court justices this term.

In Alabama, the Anniston Star referred to the opinion as a “superbly written treatise on the fallacies of capital punishment” and noted that because “[t]he 13 states that comprised the Confederacy have carried out more than 75 percent of the nation’s executions over the last four decades,” states like Alabama “are becoming more marginalized every time another state does away with this barbaric practice.”