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Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation repealing the death penalty today, making Connecticut the fifth state to do so in five years.

It's clear what direction the momentum is heading in. Connecticut joins Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey, and New York to become the 17th state without a death penalty. Montana, Colorado, Kansas, and Maryland have also considered repeal, and more than 800,000 Californians have signed to put the issue on the ballot in November.

I work for Equal Justice USA, an organization that worked on the Connecticut repeal campaign. Our director, Shari Silberstein, sums the situation up like this:

“The death penalty is clearly on its way out. From East to West, states find the same flaws with the death penalty. It makes mistakes, is ineffective and unfairly applied, and it fails to meet the needs of the people whose loved ones are murdered,”

What made the Connecticut repeal campaign special is that it was led by family members of murder victims. More than 180 family members called upon the Connecticut legislature to repeal the death penalty. Dozens called and visited lawmakers, spoke to the media, attended the votes in Hartford, and started a blog - www.ctvictimvoices.org.

These family members repeatedly described the damaging effects of the death penalty, explaining how victims’ families – regardless of their personal positions on the issue – have been failed by the current system. The long trial and appeals process, which is necessary to prevent the execution of an innocent person, re-traumatizes victims, forcing them to relive the crime in both the courts and media.

Many family members also said that while the death penalty showers resources on a few cherry-picked cases, other grieving families are left without basic services and support.  

It is now difficult to say that we need the death penalty for the families of homicide victims, because in Connecticut and around the country they are calling for its end.

The tide has truly turned.

To celebrate this momentous occassion, EJUSA is sending all of our supporters a free CT Repeal Magnet and postcard! DKos friends - you can get these collectors' items as well by signing up at www.ejusa.org/DearDeathPenalty.

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