State Representative Christopher Davis (R- Ellington) today opposed legislation to abolish the Death Penalty inConnecticut. The controversial bill passed after hours of debate by a vote of xx to xx.
“There are certain crimes that are so violent and so heinous that the death penalty is the only appropriate punishment. Here inConnecticutwe don’t use it often, we save it for offenders of the most horrible crimes imaginable, people like Stephen Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky,”Davissaid. “I respect the opinions and beliefs of those that favor repeal, but I believe that if a jury of their peers convicts, and then recommends death for an individual proven guilty of a capital offense, that murderer should remain eligible for the death penalty.”
S.B. 280: An Act Revising The Penalty For Capital Felonies eliminates the death penalty as a sentencing option for a capital felony thus leaving life imprisonment without the possibility of release as the most severe penalty available. The bill also renames the crime of capital felony as murder with special circumstances. Governor Malloy has stated that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk, having passed in the Senate last week, it is clear the bill will become law.
While the bill is written to be prospective and, therefore, have no bearing on the eleven individuals currently on Death Row,Davissaid he is concerned that upon passage it will offer an avenue of appeals for those individuals. He is also concerned these changes will have unintended consequences and could allow some violent offenders to be placed in the general prison population or remove a strong deterrent to prevent people already in prison from committing violent crimes while they are incarcerated.
Davisdid make an effort to carve out exceptions to the repeal. He proposed an amendment that would maintain the death penalty for people convicted of murder with special circumstances for murder of state or local police. The amendment failed.
“We ask police officers to protect us from harm and, in doing so, we ask them to risk their own lives for us everyday,”Davissaid. “The murder of an officer that is in course of his duty to protect you and me should be afforded special consideration.”
Davisalso supported and co-sponsored amendments to maintain the death penalty for terrorists, murderers of correction officers while in the line of duty, home invaders who commit murder during the act and rapists who commit murder during the act, among other heinous crimes. These amendments all failed as well.