Ben Jealous, the national head of the NAACP, said Thursday that the execution of Troy Davis helped Connecticut to become the 17th state to repeal the death penalty.


The Connecticut legislature on Wednesday sent a repeal of the death penalty to Gov. Dannel Malloy, who has said he will sign the legislation into law.

"You can attribute this to the upsurge in public support for ending the death penalty that the Troy Davis campaign created," Jealous said on Democracy Now. "The reality is, that campaign brought this issue to the consciousness of millions of people across this country, including tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, in this state. And the new spirit of—the new spirit of fight, of courage, of commitment, to finally have our country break with its long past of putting people to death and join the rest of Western civilization—indeed, most countries in the world have long since cut bait with the death penalty—is finally starting to take hold. This is our first victory since Troy was executed."

Troy Anthony Davis was executed by lethal injection at a state prison in Georgia last year. He was controversially convicted of killing of an off-duty police officer, but many people believed that he was innocent. The incident sparked large protests around the country before and after his execution.

Jealous said that abolishing the death penalty in Connecticut was a "critical step" to abolishing it in the country as a whole.

"We have to get 26 states in order to have met the minimum threshold for going to the Supreme Court and arguing that the punishment is not only cruel, but also unusual, and therefore in violation of Eighth Amendment and can be outlawed," he explained. "And that’s our only hope for abolishing it in Georgia, in Texas, in Mississippi, in states where, you know, quite frankly, there have been many Troy Davises over the decades, over the centuries, huge racial disparities, you know, exclusive focusing on the poor."

Watch video, courtesy of Democracy Now, below: