Monday, April 9, 2012

Connecticut death penalty repeal may spare 11 on death row, despite legislature's intent, some say

By Mary E. O’Leary
Topics Editor
HARTFORD — Now that Connecticut is on the verge of becoming the 17th state to reject the death penalty, the only question is what will happen to the 11 men currently on death row, in various stages of appeal.
The bill recently passed by the state Senate on a 20 to 16 vote applies the repeal prospectively, and the clear intent, as stated repeatedly in debate last week, is to continue to proceed with those 11 death sentences, but not for any individuals found guilty of similar crimes going forward.
Democratic supporters of repeal, including Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, who has lobbied for repeal for decades, say there are examples of the courts upholding prospective changes that will allow the death penalty revisions to stand.
Republican opponents who favor continuing with the infrequently used punishment counter that an appeal of the changes is a certainty and that the court will not allow the state to execute the 11 based on constitutional grounds.

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