Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed the repeal of Connecticut's death penalty into law, two weeks after the bill passed the state legislature.

"Today the futility of the death penalty gives way to reason in Connecticut," said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. "With Gov. Malloy's signature, Connecticut becomes the 17th state to reject a mechanism of injustice that has demeaned our nation. We hope that our governor's courage and leadership will inspire other governors in other states to take the same step away from vengeance toward a more just society."

The repeal measure passed the state Senate on April 4 after a debate that stretched into early morning and cleared the state House of Representatives on April 11. Malloy signed it April 25. It is not retroactive, which means the 11 men now on Connecticut's death row will stay there.

The other 16 states that have repealed the death penalty are Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Washington, D.C., also has no death penalty.

There are signs of change in the remaining 34 states that still have death penalty laws on their books. Executions have been halted for the past six years in California out of concern for the way lethal injections were being carried out and voters will decide in a November referendum whether to abolish capital punishment there. Repeal bills have been introduced in Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire and Washington state. Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania are reviewing their death penalty laws.

In the last 39 years, 140 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. As Schneider told the state legislature's Judiciary Committee in testimony at a hearing last month, the death penalty is "an irreversible punishment used by a justice system that makes mistakes, thus creating the very real risk of executing an innocent person."