Legislative Activity - Connecticut

  • Connecticut Lags Behind in Death Penalty Reforms The Chair of Connecticut's Judiciary Committee has called for enactment of death penalty reforms to protect against wrongful convictions. Of the six reforms recommended after a 13-month special commission on Connecticut's death penalty, only one has been enacted. Members of the commission noted, "Experiences in other states throughout the country suggest that Connecticut cannot be complacent and 'best practices' should be the watchword." Among the recommendations are video taping of interrogations, a blind and sequential witness ID process to reduce false identifications, pre-trial hearings to evaluate the validity of jail house snitch testimony, improved access to DNA testing, and an "open file" policy for prosecutors in capital cases. Rep. Michael Lawlor, Judiciary Co-chair, said that there have been no executions in Connecticut "because nobody really wants to do it." (New Haven Advocate, January 15, 2004) See New Voices.
  • Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland signed a bill to prohibit the imposition of the death penalty on a defendant who suffers from mental retardation. The bill, signed on July 6, 2001, also provides for a study of the state's death penalty*, which will examine whether there are disparities in prosecutors' decisions to seek the death penalty based on a defendant's or victim's race or economic status. The bill also expands the death penalty, makes killing in an attempt to avoid arrest or to stop the victim from carrying out his or her official duties an aggravating factor in determining whether to sentence a defendant to death.
  • On January 8, 2003, the Report of the Connecticut Commission on the Death Penalty was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly. Read the report.