Conn. Senate OKs death penalty repeal bill

Bishop Laura Ahrens, left, and Bishop Ian Douglas, right, rally at the state Capitol with religious leaders who oppose the death penalty march in favor of repealing the punishment at state level in Hartford, Conn., April 3, 2012.
AP Photo/Jessica Hill

(AP) HARTFORD, Conn. - A proposal to abolish capital punishment in Connecticut has cleared a major hurdle with approval from the state Senate.

The bill passed early today by a vote of 20-16 would make life imprisonment the maximum punishment for future cases.

The proposal now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass easily. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would sign the legislation into law.

The legislation would not directly affect sentences of the 11 inmates on Connecticut's death row. But relatives of some crime victims are opposing the measure, saying it could be used by lawyers for those inmates as grounds for appeal.

Senate Democrats amended the bill to mandate prison conditions that mirror those on death row for inmates convicted under the new legislation.