By a 25-16 vote, the Judiciary Committee voted against one three-strikes proposal today. The bill called for mandatory life sentence for third time offenders.
Opponents said the revamped three-strikes-and-you’re-out proposal was deceiving because it would not automatically require a life sentence for a third violent offense. The bill still gave prosecutors the discretion to decide whether to charge someone under the law.
And committee co-chairman Rep. Michael Lawlor said prosecutors have told lawmakers they would rarely use such a law.
“The bottom line is, this is very misleading,” said Lawlor, D-East Haven.
Another reason legislators gave for the down vote was that they had just recently tinkered with the persistent offender statute and not enough time has passed to evaluate whether that works or not:
Connecticut already has a law on the books addressing repeat offenders. During a special session in January, where many Cheshire-related reforms were passed, lawmakers tinkered with the law. They passed a version that removed a requirement that a judge make certain findings before imposing up to a life sentence for third-time offenders. That law takes effect March 1.
Sen. Andrew McDonald, the other committee co-chairman, said lawmakers should wait and see if that works.
“We are trying to fix something that we don’t know as yet is broken,” said McDonald, D-Stamford.