Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Jersey prepares to abolish the death penalty

The New Jersey Senate voted yesterday to abolish the state's death penalty. The measure already has majority support in the House, where it will now head for a final vote before it lands on Governor Jon Corzine's desk. Corzine has said that he will sign it.

By next week, New Jersey will become the first state since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the United States Supreme Court after a four year moratorium, to repeal its death penalty by legislative action. The state supreme Court of New York declared its state's death penalty unconstitutional in 2004. The governors of two other states with death penalties, Illinois and Maryland, imposed a moratorium on executions after they determined there too many problems in carrying them out.

I'd like to think this will inspire other states to follow suit. I don't think that will be the case, though. Retribution is too powerful an emotion for many people to put aside when weighing the pros and cons of capital punishment. And politicians have no incentive to campaign against something that is still pretty popular. So we'll see.

1 comment:

David said...

The latest polls I've seen show 65% in favor of state executions, with 32% opposed, which is pretty lopsided. But, when given the choice between executions and life without parole, it's a lot closer - 50% support execution, and 46% LWOP. That 's pretty close. What happens to the latter numbers if the movement develops any momentum?