The governor of New Jersey is expected to sign a bill approved by the state legislature to abolish the death penalty. Once signed into law, New Jersey will be the 14 states without capital punishment.
The state has not put anyone to death since 1963. In January 2007, a legislative commission concluded that the death penalty was “inconsistent with evolving standards of decency” and recommended it be abolished.
First Legislative Ban in Decades
This week both the state Assembly and Senate voted in favor of the ban, making New Jersey the first state to legislatively end capital punishment since it was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976.
Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat, is an opponent of capital punishment and will likely sign the bill into law. In lieu of the death penalty, those convicted of the most serious crimes will receive life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Declining Use of Capital Punishment
Thirty-six states, the federal government, and the military still retain the death penalty, though its use is declining. In 2006, executions reached the lowest they’ve been in the past decade, with 53 total. That total is expected to fall even lower this year.
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