New Jersey Bans Death Penalty
Posted on Dec 21, 2007
Last Monday, Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed a measure that abolishes the death penalty, making New
Approved last week by the state's Assembly and Senate, the bill replaces the death sentence with life in prison without parole.
"This is a day of progress for us and for the millions of people across our nation and around the globe who reject the death penalty as a moral or practical response to the grievous, even heinous, crime of murder," Corzine said.
Eight men were spared on Sunday because of the measure. Corzine signed orders commuting the sentences of the men to life in prison without parole.
Among the eight spared is Jesse Timmendequas, a sex offender who murdered 7-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994. The case inspired Megan's Law, which requires law enforcement agencies to notify the public about convicted sex offenders living in their communities.
The state's move is being hailed across the world as a historic victory against capital punishment.
"The rest of
The bill passed the Legislature largely along party lines, with controlling Democrats supporting the abolition and minority Republicans opposed. Republicans had sought to retain the death penalty for those who murder law enforcement officials, rape and murder children, and terrorists, but Democrats rejected that.
"It's simply a specious argument to say that, somehow, after six millennia of recorded history, the punishment no longer fits the crime," said Assemblyman Joseph Malone, a Republican.
Members of victims' families fought against the law.
"I will never forget how I've been abused by a state and a governor that was supposed to protect the innocent and enforce the laws," said Marilyn Flax, whose husband
The last states to eliminate the death penalty were
The nation has executed 1,099 people since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976. In 1999, 98 people were executed, the most since 1976; last year 53 people were executed, the lowest since 1996.
Other states have considered abolishing the death penalty recently, but none has advanced as far as
The nation's last execution was Sept. 25 in
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