The great state of Connecticut has executed its last prisoner, the state’s highest court ruled today.

Although Connecticut decided in 2012 not to sentence any more prisoners to death, the ruling was not applied retroactively and the state intended to execute the rest of the prisoners on death row before shutting down the execution chamber for good.

Instead, 11 prisoners currently waiting on Connecticut’s death row are dodging an almost-literal bullet after the State Supreme Court determined today that the death penalty constitutes an unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Via the New York Times:

“Upon careful consideration of the defendant’s claims in light of the governing constitutional principles and Connecticut’s unique historical and legal landscape, we are persuaded that, following its prospective abolition, this state’s death penalty no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose,” Justice Richard Palmer wrote for the majority in the decision.

The decision goes on to say that the adoption of the state’s 2012 law, “when considered in light of the history of capital punishment in our state and other recent legal developments, compels us to conclude that the death penalty now constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the state constitution.”

The prisoners—despite their new court-sanctioned lease on life—will still serve out the rest of their years behind bars, Connecticut governor Dannel P. Malloy says:

“We will continue to look to the judicial system for additional guidance on this rule. But it’s clear that those currently serving on death row will serve the rest of their life in a Department of Corrections facility with no possibility of ever obtaining freedom.”

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