New York Court Rules Death Penalty Unconstitutional

New York's highest appeals court has declared the state's death penalty unconsitutional. The decision affects all four of the state's death row prisoners:

In a 4-3 ruling, the court said New York's sentencing rules might unconstitutionally coerce jurors into voting for a death sentence rather than risk a deadlock by holding out for life without parole. If a jury deadlocks, the judge imposes a sentence of 20-25 years to life, giving the possibility of parole.

The prospect of that lesser sentence may coerce the jury to choose the death penalty when they do not want to, the court said.

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