In a ruling announced today, the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld its 2015 decision to declare the death penalty unconstitutional in all circumstances in Connecticut, including in cases involving inmates who were sentenced prior to the enactment of a 2012 state law abolishing capital punishment.

“The death penalty is a barbaric practice that has been a tool of racial injustice. We applaud the Connecticut supreme court for standing by its decision that the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment,” said Dan Barrett, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

Today’s ruling in State v. Peeler reaffirms the court’s 4-3 decision in State v. Santiago, which held that the death penalty’s history, and the legislature’s prospective repeal of it in 2012, put the punishment afoul of the Connecticut Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut filed a friend of the court brief in Santiago and strongly advocated for legislative repeal of the death penalty in 2012. Following Santiago and today’s ruling, the eleven people on Connecticut’s death row will serve life sentences in prison.

“In America, the death penalty has been applied unjustly and unequally. Too often, innocent people have been sent to death row. There are better ways to ensure justice in today’s world. With this morning’s ruling, Connecticut can continue to lead the way in creating a twenty-first century justice system,” said David McGuire, Legislative and Policy Director & Interim Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

Nineteen states, including Connecticut, have abolished the death penalty. After Connecticut passed its 2012 legislation to replace capital punishment with life without parole, Maryland and Nebraska also followed suit.