The state Senate's momentous vote to repeal the death penalty brings Connecticut to the threshold of ending an inherently flawed form of punishment.

“This is a proud moment in Connecticut history – for human rights, civil rights and justice,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut. “Capital punishment is the ultimate denial of civil liberties and its application has been arbitrary, racially discriminatory and ineffective at deterring crime. The ACLU of Connecticut has worked for decades to repeal the death penalty, and we’re grateful to the state legislature for taking this historic step. “

The Senate voted 20-16 for repeal around 2 a.m. Wednesday, after nearly 10 hours of debate. The measure now goes to the state House, where it has wide support. It needs only the signature of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to become law. He has said he will sign it.

Since Connecticut reinstituted the death penalty in 1973, doubts about its fairness and effectiveness have only grown. Across the nation 140 people have been exonerated and released from death row during that time, while several people have been executed despite serious doubts about their guilt. In addition, studies have consistently shown strong racial disparities in the application of capital punishment.

“The death penalty has never been applied rationally, in Connecticut or elsewhere,” said Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut. "We have been more likely to impose death if the crime victim was white or if the crime occurred in one judicial district rather than another. Recognizing that repeal is the only way to remedy these constitutional flaws, the Senate has voted to make Connecticut a more humane and just state.”

Connecticut will join 16 states that have repealed the death penalty: Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.