When Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2012, one question remained: what was to become of the prisoners who were sentenced to die before the ban went into effect?
On Thursday, the State Supreme Court answered that question and ruled 4-3 that the 11 prisoners currently held on death row will not be executed.
“We are persuaded that, following its prospective abolition, this state’s death penalty no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose,” wrote Justice Richard Palmer in the court’s decision.
“For these reasons, execution of those offenders who committed capital felonies prior to April 25, 2012, would violate the state constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.”
The AP report:
The ruling comes in an appeal from Eduardo Santiago, whose attorneys had argued that any execution carried out after repeal would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Santiago faced the possibility of lethal injection for a 2000 murder-for-hire killing in West Hartford...
The ruling means the 11 men on the state’s death row will no longer be subject to execution orders. Those inmates include Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, who were sentenced to die for killing a mother and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion in Cheshire.
Now, instead of the death penalty, the punishment for crimes previously classified as capital offenses will be life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Connecticut has only executed one prisoner—serial killer Michael Ross in 2005—since 1960.
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Image via AP.