NJ Comm'n Recommends End to Death Penalty

A legislative commission in New Jersey has recommended that the state abolish its death penalty. The recommendation enjoys the support of Gov. John Corzine. It's also supported by experience and common sense.

With just one of its 13 members dissenting, the commission said there was “no compelling evidence” that the death penalty served a legitimate purpose and increasing evidence that it “is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency.” The panel recommended replacing capital punishment with the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Publicity about the plague of wrongful convictions that DNA evidence has revealed provides a strong impetus for New Jersey to abandon death as a punishment. The question now is whether state legislators will follow the commission's advice. If you live in New Jersey, you can help by telling your legislator that you support abolishing the death penalty.

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    Really? (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 06:03:42 PM EST
    That takes away the strongest argument against the death penalty.

    Whatever happened to "Thou shall not kill"?

    Morality (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Jen M on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 11:54:30 PM EST
    isnt just a religious trait.

    A lack of moral however is kind of a trait of psychopaths


    Every (4.00 / 1) (#21)
    by aw on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 09:58:31 PM EST
    killing doesn't yield DNA evidence.

    No (4.00 / 1) (#22)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 11:44:43 PM EST
    However, executing verified 100% guilty murderers, child killers and scums like that makes the world a better place.

    I really don't see how it's any better than keeping them locked away forever. And I don't care if the victims demand retribution in the false hope that it will bring them relief. It's not their right to do so.


    Perhaps (none / 0) (#5)
    by aw on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 06:55:06 PM EST
    you're thinking of Harris County (Houston, TX) where the medical examiners DNA lab produced such shoddy work, they are reviewing thousands of cases (not just death penalty cases.)

    In narius' mind (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:09:06 PM EST
    moral arguments mean nothing, and are not strong enough to overcome certainty that someone was guilty. Guilty = "must die" in his world, even though he becomes a killer too. But he is still innocent... or something... ummm... well... or something.

    "No mistake" (none / 0) (#9)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:26:27 PM EST
    You make an excellent point. Furthermore, despite prosecutors' love of phrases like "1 in ten trillion!" when talking about DNA evidence, it is not perfectly accurate.

    As a biology student, I'm torn between feeling relieved that apparent conservatives are trusting science once again (although it'd be nice to get an official acknowledgement that people weren't riding dinosaurs through the Grand Canyon while the pyramids were being built) and a sinking feeling that, like Iraqi WMDs, it's just another throwaway rationale for the abominable practice of taking human life as a quick pick-me-up.


    Why (none / 0) (#24)
    by Edger on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 12:04:07 AM EST
    do you want them executed?

    No death penalty (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by koshembos on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:14:11 PM EST
    Following a murder by a "justified" killing, i.e. capital punishment, is still a killing. We either value human life or we qualify it. I believe that death penalty is totally and absolutely unjustified and should be abolished.

    Excellent news (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Al on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:09:26 PM EST
    Let's hope civilization will prevail. And let's hope the example spreads.

    It is wrong to kill people and if you (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by JSN on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:34:13 PM EST
    kill someone we will kill you. I have always thought that something was wrong with that school of thought.

    The State kills people because;

    1. we are mad at them
    2. we are afraid of them (even though they in jail and are not able to harm us)
    3. to prevent them from killing or seriously injuring another person
    4. as a deterrent to crime
    5. as just retribution (this implies a theocracy)
    6. as consequence of conducting a war (No doubt some will object to this being listed because they consider it to be justifiable homicide).
    7. for treason

    That is about the reasons all I can think of at the moment.

    I do not support State mandated homicide for any except number 3. which covers justifiable homicide by a police officer (I would have to critically review each case in order to make such a decision). The only reason I support it is that I think there is a chance that the police action has the potential for reducing the total number killed. In other words if you can't save everyone save as many as possible.

    In general justifiable homicide by a police officer is spontaneous and not subject to external review and control. On the other hand large scale military operations are planned and reviewed and there is a command and control system in operation.

    In American colonies there were no prisons (jails were used for pretrial detention) until the Quakers created them in Pennsylvania. First offense burglary was punished by a fine and some type of humiliating corporal punishment. Persons convicted of second offense burglary and similar crimes were executed so there was no need for prisons.

    After the revolution the death penalty was eliminated except for treason (later first degree murder was added) as a reaction to the oppressive policies of the British monarchy. The modern prison was created in this country as an alternative to capital punishment a hallmark of an oppressive form of government.

    I guess we have forgotten our own history.

    Agree. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Edger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:45:29 PM EST
    In general justifiable homicide by a police officer is spontaneous and not subject to external review and control.

    It is also NOT an un-needed execution of a defenseless, controlled, imprisoned person who, assuming adequate security in the prison, is not a danger to anyone else.


    I just did (none / 0) (#4)
    by aw on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 06:46:16 PM EST
    you can help by telling your legislator that you support abolishing the death penalty.

    Has anyone in NJ (none / 0) (#7)
    by Edger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:10:03 PM EST
    tabled a bill yet to abolish it?

    A bill was introduced two years ago (none / 0) (#10)
    by aw on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:31:27 PM EST
    No passage yet.

    An Act to allow for life imprisonment without eligibility for parole when certain aggravators exist and to repeal the death penalty, amending N.J.S.2C:11-3, repealing P.L.1983, c.245, and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.


    Thx... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:39:39 PM EST
    bill is pending (none / 0) (#12)
    by allwrits on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:42:57 PM EST
    NJ's legislators have repeatedly introduced bills.  What remains to be seen is whether the substantially broadened LWOP portions of committee's recommendations are enacted.  

    I should note, that I can't imagine where the death penalty reform / elimination efforts would be in NJ without a strong pro-life catholic backing.  The strategists on the grounds did a hell of a job reaching out across traditional partisan lines to find common ground.


    I don't much about what the climate in NJ (none / 0) (#13)
    by Edger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:47:38 PM EST
    How much support in the legislature is there now, apart from the commission and from Corzine? Is there substantial chance of getting it passed?

    I don't know (none / 0) (#15)
    by aw on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:14:28 PM EST
    but we are pretty liberal and the democrats have majorities in the state legislature now.  From what I've read it looks like a party line split.

    That sounds like (none / 0) (#16)
    by Edger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:18:16 PM EST
    a fair chance...

    The numbers support the lack of deterrence too (none / 0) (#17)
    by Edger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:31:12 PM EST
    Studies Comparing States with and without the Death Penalty
    States Without the Death Penalty Have Better Record on Homicide Rates:

    A new survey by the New York Times found that states without the death penalty have lower homicide rates than states with the death penalty. The Times reports that ten of the twelve states without the death penalty have homicide rates below the national average, whereas half of the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above. During the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48% - 101% higher than in states without the death penalty. "I think Michigan made a wise decision 150 years ago," said the state's governor, John Engler, a Republican, referring to the state's abolition of the death penalty in 1846. "We're pretty proud of the fact that we don't have the death penalty."

    So basically it boils down to: supporting the death penalty implies supporting having a higher murder rate.

    Great for the wingnuts - they get a double dip out it. No wonder they like the death penalty. It fits their psychology: the more death the better...

    Homicide Rates in Death Penalty and Non-Death Penalty States: (table: image)

    The killing of one diminishes us all... (none / 0) (#25)
    by Bill Arnett on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 01:17:18 PM EST
    ...if we purport to be a civilized society.