December 15, 2005

New Jersey Senate Approves Moratorium on Death Penalty

New Jersey Would be First State in 'Modern Era' to Enact Moratorium Law

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

WASHINGTON - December 15 – Amid growing national concern over flaws with capital punishment, the New Jersey Senate Thursday approved a one-year ban on executions in the state and said it would study how the death penalty is administered.

If the legislation is approved by the New Jersey General Assembly in January, New Jersey’s Legislature will become the first since executions resumed in the 1970s to approve a moratorium. Two other states – Illinois and Maryland – enacted moratoriums as a result of executive orders.

The bill, sponsored by Democrat Reed Gisciora and Republican Christopher ‘Kip’ Bateman, passed on a strong 30 to 6 vote. NCADP helped its affiliate, New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, by mobilizing death penalty opponents in New Jersey and urging them to contact their state senators.

New Jersey’s action comes at a time when voters increasingly are questioning whether innocent people are sentenced to death. Just last month, the Houston Chronicle published an investigative series strongly suggesting that a person executed in Texas, Ruben Cantu, may well have been innocent.

“Across the country, people are becoming increasingly aware that the death penalty risks executing the innocent and discriminates on the basis of race, geography and whether one can afford a good lawyer,” said Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “New Jersey legislators are responding to this growing awareness. No one wants an innocent person to spend even one day on death row, much less be executed.”

Rust-Tierney noted that two other states, California and North Carolina, have approved bills creating commissions that will study the death penalty. She predicted that within the next two years a number of states will debate abolition and moratorium bills, other death penalty reforms and bills to examine capital punishment.

Posted by Mentor at December 15, 2005 09:00 PM