New Jersey joined 13 other states and most of the world’s industrialized democratic countries when it banned the death penalty today. It’s general assembly voted 44 to 36 in favor of a law that will end the practice, and Governor Jon Corzine is expected to sign it next week. Eight men are currently on New Jersey’s death row; their sentences will now be changed to life without the possibility of parole.
Lawmakers were swayed in large part by a report drafted by the Constitution Project’s national Death Penalty Committee. The committee, comprised of death penalty proponents and opponents alike, came to one unanimous and startling conclusion:
“Around the country, procedural safeguards and other assurances of fundamental fairness in the administration of capital punishment have been revealed to be deeply flawed.”
Funny thing is, most New Jerseyans support capital punishment. A recent poll found that 53 percent oppose ending the death penalty and a whopping 78 percent want to see child molesters and serial killers executed. This is a rare case of our political leaders taking a bold and decisive action because it’s morally right, not because it will please the masses.