Under pressure for a response to two deadly home invasions in the past nine months, the Connecticut Senate voted today to strengthen the state’s criminal law and allocate $10 million for enhanced crime-fighting, reports the Hartford Courant. The final version gained bipartisan support to authorize judges to double the penalty following a second violent crime and triple the penalty after a third offense – up to a maximum of life in prison for a violent felon. Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and legislators have all called for tougher laws after a triple slaying in Cheshire last summer and the abduction, rape, and killing of a frail, cancer-stricken, elderly woman who could not defend herself last month in New Britain.
A Republican “three strikes” amendment that would force judges to sentence a criminal to life in prison after conviction of a third violent felony failed 19 to 16. A legislative report showed that an average of 103 people have been released from prison every year for the past five years after they finished serving their time for three violent felonies. The average sentence for the third violent felony was 7.9 years in prison. Democrats called the “three strikes” proposal nothing more than a bumper-sticker slogan in an election year. “This is not a baseball game. This is life,” said Senator Donald DeFronzo, “It achieves more as a political sound bite and a sports metaphor than it does as a piece of solid legislation.  This amendment is virtually valueless.”