HARTFORD – Legislation repealing the state’s death penalty will not pass constitutional muster and will spare the 11 brutal murderers already on Death Row, House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. of Norwalk said during debate today.
Under the bill no one convicted of capital felony murder would be executed except for those 11 men, setting up a two-tier punishment system – the aspect that Cafero predicted would be struck down as unconstitutional. He called that “prospective’’ provision a political cover scheme to allow some lawmakers to vote to spare the lives of the most violent criminals, while hoping to convince voters they were still “tough on crime.’’
“Let’s be honest about the debate. It is illogical, it is impossible that a two-tier application of the law will be allowed to stand. Either ban the death penalty for all, or apply it evenly for those who deserve to pay the ultimate punishment for their crimes,’’ Cafero said.
Gov. Dannel Malloy paved the way for the death penalty vote when he made a campaign promise in 2010 to repeal the law one month before the election. At the time, he said he would insist that the prospective provision be included. Malloy took the pledge on the day one of the Cheshire murders was convicted in the rape, murder and arson home invasion that destroyed a Cheshire family.
Malloy had been on record as saying he opposed the death penalty but the public was outraged over the Cheshire murders and there continues deep public support for the death penalty.
“It was a calculation made in the middle of a political campaign,’’ Cafero said.
The House debate started about 1:20 p.m. and Cafero was the first lawmaker to speak in opposition to repeal. Last week following a nearly 11 hour debate the State Senate voted 20-16 to repeal the law. Malloy has said he would sign it into law.