GOV.’S OFFICE STANDING BY AS ‘RESOURCE’ IN DEATH PENALTY DEBATE

Gov. Dannel Malloy has not submitted a bill to the legislature regarding the death penalty in Connecticut and has no plans to testify or submit testimony to the judiciary committee hearing on the issue being held today. However, one of the foremost experts on the issue, now working for the governor, will be standing by to make sure all information that is imparted today is factual.

Former longtime judiciary committee chairman Mike Lawlor, now Malloy’s criminal justice expert in the governor’s budget office, will be a resource for the committee as it takes testimony on the latest bill that would abolish the death penalty in Connecticut.

Lawlor, the former longtime state representative from East Haven and death penalty opponent, tells The Hanging Shad he’s been consulting with the new judiciary chairs and will simply be ready to refute any misinformation that may come out at the hearings or elsewhere. “It remains the governor’s position that if a bill prohibiting the death penalty prospectively passes, he’ll sign it,” Lawlor said.

Lawlor notes that those who want to limit appeals and expedite the process can certainly say they want to do that. “It’s easy to say but the fact is, none of them has introduced a bill to do that. Where’s the bill?” Lawlor is now undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning in the governor’s office of policy and management. That’s a long way of saying he’s the governor’s criminal justice point man. He says the issue is relevant to the budget office. “The state would save quite a lot of money if the death penalty went away,” he said. “It’s hard to pinpoint but it’s probably between five and ten million dollars a year.”

This year’s bill, which would abolish the death penalty prospectively in favor of life in prison without the possibility of parole, comes in the shadow of the legal proceedings of the Cheshire home invasion cases. Steven Hayes has already been convicted and sentenced to death. The second defendant, Joshua Komisarjevsky, is scheduled to go to trial later this year.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11:30 this morning at the Legislative Office Building.