However Democratic leaders say they are confident the bill will only affect cases in the future and that the eleven men on death row will stay there.
Dr. William Petit appeared at a news conference with members of his family, other survivors of homicide, and Republican leaders in the Senate to say that the repeal bill will not do what advocates are promising.
"I think prospective, prospective repeal of the death penalty is false," Dr. Petit said. "There'll be multiple appeals for people already on death row."
Petit, who has studied the issue, says that death row inmates like Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes will immediately have grounds for more appeals on equal protection and constitutional grounds.
"I think to try to convince people to flip their votes and say this is only going to be prospective. I think is disingenuous at best," Dr. Petit said.
But the Democratic leadership staunchly defended the concept and said that the courts have and will continue to abide because of the separation of powers doctrine.
"Where the legislature has made it clear that the intention of a bill or legislation that they've passed is to be prospective and not retroactive. The courts have deferred to the legislatures," said Sen. Eric Coleman.
In order to get the votes they need advocates have re-crafted the bill so that those convicted of Capitol Felony murder will not be housed with the general prison population.
The amendment is called "murder with special circumstances" and in these cases convicted murders would be allowed no contact visits, no activities like working in the woodshop or having a prison job, their recreation time would be limited. Like those on death row they would be shackled anytime they are required to move from their isolated living quarters.
The idea is to have this penalty as similar to the current death row as possible and as close to isolated confinement as the constitution will allow.
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