Monday, January 31, 2011

New Jersey Joins New Mexico in Reconsidering Death Penalty

Repeal Sponsor Said He Would Support Reinstating Death Penalty

In December 2007, the New Jersey Legislature and former Governor Jon Corzine abolished the death penalty. A state panel concluded that executing prisoners was expensive, served no penological purpose and was out of step with "evolving standards of decency," reported The Record.

Now state Senators Robert Singer and Anthony Bucco, both Republicans, are sponsoring a senate bill which would reinstate executions for those who murder a child, kill a police officer in the line of duty or commit a deadly terrorist attack. "Sometimes it is the only way to achieve justice for the victims and families affected by horrible crimes," Singer told The Record.

New Jersey's last execution was in 1963. In 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty Furman v. Georgia 408 U.S. 238(1972). Four years later, after a number of state revamped their death penalty statutes and the Supreme Court attached its imprimatur in Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976).

The death penalty was back but not always carried out. Though it was reinstated in New Jersey in 1982, and 60 convicted criminals were sentenced to death, no one ever executed.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat, sponsored the bill that abolished New Jersey’s death penalty in 2007. He has reconsidered his position on the death penalty in light of the recent Arizona shootings and murder of a New Jersey police officer. Gusciora told The Trentonian,“I would vote on a bill today that would impose the death penalty . . .”

He added that there must be “beyond, beyond reasonable doubt (of the killer’s guilt). … And it would be for extreme circumstances where the person showed absolutely no remorse for the victim and did it in a cruel manner.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has indicated he would sign legislation reinstating the death penalty.

New Jersey now joins New Mexico as the second state that has recently abolished the death penalty and is now considering legislation to reinstate capital punishment. I recently wrote about New Mexico,

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