New Jersey's Times of Trenton columnist George Amick writes, "Sen. Shirley Turner recalls effort to end death penalty in N.J. as other states follow suit." It's a must-read. Here's the beginning:
Five years ago, when then-Gov. Jon Corzine’s signature made New Jersey the first state since the 1960s to abolish the death penalty legislatively, supporters of the repeal predicted that it would encourage similar actions elsewhere in the nation.
They were right. New Mexico followed suit in 2009, Illinois in 2011, and Connecticut in 2012. Two weeks ago, the Maryland Legislature completed action on a measure to ban capital punishment for future crimes. When Gov. Martin O’Malley signs it into law, as he has pledged to do, Maryland will join 17 other states that have ended executions.
Similar campaigns reportedly are making progress in Delaware, Colorado, New Hampshire, Kansas and Nebraska. And many states with the death penalty still on the books are using it more sparingly. “State after state is deciding that (it) is simply not worth the risks and costs to retain,” says Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
The effort here to replace state-imposed death with life in prison without parole was long and difficult, recalled one of its leaders, state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence). But she’s proud of the outcome.
“It’s one of the most important accomplishments I’ve had during my tenure in the Legislature,” she told me. “We brought New Jersey out of the Dark Ages. It was just barbaric to think that for the state to lower itself to the level of a common criminal, a murderer, constitutes justice.”
The reformers were also strongly motivated by the awareness that an innocent person could be put to death — the epitome of the irreversible mistake.
Earlier coverage of New Jersey's landmark repeal of capital punishment is at the link. Related posts are in the abolition category index.