Thursday, December 13, 2007

No More Death Penalty in New Jersey!

Great news! The bill to repeal the death penalty in New Jersey has now passed both houses of the NJ legislature

My awesome Governor (despite some of the grumbling and his lack of popularity in polls, I'm very happy with him) Jon Corzine, who opposes capital punishment, is going to sign the bill.

The vote follows approval by the state Senate on Monday, and the measure is now expected to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, a foe of capital punishment

My personal thoughts on the death penalty are as follows: In theory, I don't have a serious moral objection to executing first-degree murderers (although I'm not supportive of it even in theory). I have three big problems with it. In order of importance:

  1. It's irreversible. Our justice system isn't perfect. New evidence has turned up in many cases exonerating those on death row. Innocent people have almost certainly been executed; nothing overrides that. Life without parole as the maximum sentence means if there's new evidence, that person can be freed and only years of their life will have been taken instead of life itself

  2. It hasn't been applied fairly. If you look at the people Texas has executed, almost none of them have even graduated from high school. They're poor. While there may be proportionately more murders committed by those with less education (I don't know), it's definitely not even close to that overwhelming. It's clear that those with more education and money get top-notch lawyers who ensure that they don't get the death penalty.

  3. It's too expensive. It's cost New Jersey millions and millions and millions in extra court costs for appeals and such, and nobody's been executed (thankfully) in the 40 years we've had it

A look at the vote in the Senate is interesting:

3 Dems voted NAY (Madden, Sacco, Scutari) and 3 Repubs voted YEA (Allen, Coniglio, Martin, Palaia). I guess bipartisanship is still possible in NJ (40 person Senate).

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