HARTFORD – On Wednesday after a lengthy debate, State Rep. Rob Sampson, (Wolcott and Southington), voted against abolishing the death penalty in Connecticut and possibly opening the door for those currently on death row to have their sentences overturned. The bill however passed the House of Representatives on a mostly party line vote, 86 to 62.
“This is yet another example of the legislative Democrats in Hartford giving aid and comfort to the worst and most violent offenders in our state. Just last year, a bill I voted against gave good time credits to violent criminals. I would prefer to see our legislature dedicating it’s time to improving our ailing economy, reducing taxes and regulations and encouraging business,” said Sampson.
According to the non-partisan Office of Legislative Research, the bill would have eliminated the death penalty as a sentencing option, and made the penalty for this new crime life imprisonment without the possibility of release. For people sentenced to death before the bill’s effective date, the death penalty would still apply, setting up two different classes of murderers, those sentenced to die pre-repeal and those sentenced after repeal, which do not have to face death.
The debate touched upon many aspects of the controversial issue, said Rep Sampson. Some of the topics debated included whether the death penalty actually serves as a deterrent against heinous crimes and the impact on state taxpayers to house, feed and provide health care for the duration of a prisoner’s life vs. legal costs associated with prosecuting death penalty cases; moral issues involving capital punishment, as well as some of the alarming and gruesome details of some of crimes committed by the eleven inmates currently on Connecticut’s death row.
“I do feel strongly that Connecticut should maintain a death penalty punishment,” said Rep. Sampson. “As history indicates, it is very difficult to sentence a convicted murderer to death. Cases such as the brutal killings in Cheshire several years ago are the perfect example why we need to maintain the ultimate punishment suitable for the worst of the worst of society’s criminals. Many of the arguments made by the proponents of the repeal have little merit in our state. Claims of innocent people being condemned to death are quite a stretch in Connecticut where we have had only one execution in the last fifty years. ”