A data history of the death penalty in Connecticut

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Though capital punishment was outlawed in Connecticut in 2012 for future crimes, the state Supreme Court declared Thursday that the 11 men currently on death row would avoid execution.

Instead, the men will join 50 others in Connecticut serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Since 1960, Connecticut has only executed two prisoners — most recently serial killer Michael Ross in 2005 by lethal injection.

When compared to other states, Connecticut doesn’t stand out in death row inmates per million residents nor in total number of executions. It joins three other states (Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming) with only one execution since 1976. That’s excluding states that had outlawed capital punishment completely.

Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia lead all other states in executions since 1976 with 528, 112, and 110 respectively.

Alabama, Nevada, and Florida have the most death row inmates per million residents.

The national count of criminals sent to death row grew after 1977 and peaked in 2000.

Since then, capital punishment has declined to a 20-year low of just 35 executions last year. Many states like Connecticut have been unable to purchase the drugs used for lethal injections.

The national trend in death sentences has also declined over time.

TrendCT wanted to look at capital punishment data stretching back to the earliest days of Connecticut. The most thorough databases are from the Connecticut State Library since 1894 and from Wikipedia for earlier. So keep in mind the accuracy of data gets shakier the farther back in time one looks.

Murder was overwhelmingly the crime that led to a death sentence. The only person who was killed for the crime of burglary was Isaac Frazier, an 18-year-old who was hanged in New Haven in 1768. Historians say Frazier was responsible for more than 50 burglaries across New England and New York.

Death by hanging was the most common method of capital punishment in Connecticut. It was the legal form of execution for almost 300 years, from 1639 when Connecticut was a colony, until 1937, when it switched to the electric chair. Lethal injection followed in 2005.

Death penalty by crime and county in Connecticut
County Burglary Murder Rape Sodomy Treason Witchcraft
Fairfield 0 14 2 0 0 2
Hartford 0 39 0 0 1 6
Litchfield 0 4 0 0 0 0
Middlesex 0 6 0 0 0 0
New Haven 1 33 1 4 1 0
New London 0 8 0 0 0 0
Tolland 0 3 0 0 0 0
Windham 0 4 0 0 0 0

It’s interesting to see what crimes led to death sentences in what parts of Connecticut. The deaths related to witchcraft were all in Fairfield or Hartford. New Haven put at least four people to death for sodomy.

Only 10 women have been executed in Connecticut. Seven, all white women, were sentenced in the 1600s for crimes related to witchcraft. In the 1700s, three women were hanged for murder. Two of them were Native Americans.

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