Minutes before the state House of Representatives was set to begin a marathon debate on a bill to repeal Connecticut’s death penalty, the House Republican leader made a last-ditch argument against the measure.
Rep. Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, told reporters this afternoon the bill is a “fraud on the public” because the repeal is prospective in nature and would not apply to the 11 men currently on death row.
“What is so troublesome about this year’s bill — it is prospective which by every measure is totally unconstitutional and in my opinion cannot be justified on a moral level, on a political level, on any level,” Cafero said.
Cafero said the prospective aspect of the bill is nothing more than political cover to garner more support for the measure after several lawmakers expressed concerns that Joshua Komisarjevsky and Stephen Hayes would spared the execution chamber. Hayes and Komisarjevsky were convicted of killing three members of the Petit family during a home invasion in 2007.
The House began debate on the death penalty measure at 1:20 p.m. The bill cleared the state Senate last Wednesday on a 20-16 vote; it is widely expected to win approval in the House as well. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he will sign a bill that abolishes capital punishment for future crimes but preserves it for those currently on death row.
But Cafero predicted that the propsoective bill would be deemed unconstitutional. “What happened to the days when we argued this bill on prinicple?” he said, citing past debates. “That has gone out the window.”
Cafero called the prospective aspect of the bill ”the Malloy doctrine” because of the governor’s support, although a bill debated and approved by the General Assembly in 2009 was also prospective in nature. (That bill was vetoed by then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell.)
Roy Occhiogrosso, the governor’s senior adviser, said he hopes Cafero “would not play politics with this issue of all issues…The prospective repeal of the death penalty is an example of the governor keeping his word from the campaign. It’s been moved forward in this building before. And it will allow the death penalty to be repealed while also allowing the 11 people currently on death row to continue to be governed by the laws as they were in place when they were sentanced.”