Connecticut is repealing the death penalty, the fifth state in five years to ban the practice. The new law replaces the death penalty with life in prison without parole.

Abolition backers say the time has come to end the use of capital punishment because the practice is outdated and the risk of killing an innocent victim is too great.

Supporters of capital punishment said the practice is suitable for perpetrators of particularly heinous crimes.

The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty except in the most serious of cases when it is the only way society has to “defend human lives against an unjust aggressor.” The church considers such cases “very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

Death penalty bans have been enacted in Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York. Sixteen other states have no capital punishment law. California voters will decide in November whether to ban the practice.