Conn. Catholic Conference praises repeal of death penalty

Governor Dannel P Malloy CNA US Catholic News 4 12 12 Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy

The Connecticut legislature’s passage of a bill to abolish the death penalty is “a wonderful step in the right direction,” says Michael C. Culhane, director of the state's Catholic conference.

“The Catholic Church supports the sanctity of life from conception until natural death,” he told CNA April 12. “The life, even of one who has committed a heinous crime, should not be taken.

The legislature voted on April 11 to end the death sentence for any future convictions. Eleven men presently remain on death row.

“I’m pleased the House passed the bill, and when it gets to my desk I will sign it,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said April 11. “Going forward, we will have a system that allows us to put these people away for life, in living conditions none of us would want to experience. Let’s throw away the key and have them spend the rest of their natural lives in jail.”

Connecticut has had only one execution in over 50 years. That execution took place in 2005, when serial killer Michael Ross volunteered for lethal injection.

The proposed legislation drew advocates from both sides of the debate, including murder victims’ families.

One of the supporters of the death penalty was Dr. William J. Petit Jr. He was the only survivor of a home invasion in 2007 when two burglars on parole killed his wife and two daughters.

In 2011 he persuaded state senators to delay the legislation until after the death penalty trial of one of the two killers.

Elizabeth Brancato, whose mother was murdered in 1979, lobbied in favor of the repeal.

“For those of us who believe killing is wrong, it somehow diminishes the deaths of our loved ones if we say in certain circumstances it is okay to kill,’ she said, according to the Associated Press.

Culhane told CNA the legislative effort to repeal the death penalty was the third since 2009.

“We’re very happy that this year the effort was successful and capital punishment will no longer be the law of the land in Connecticut,” he said.

Sixteen other U.S. states have repealed the death penalty.

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