The New Jersey Senate has called for a study of whether capital punishment is just, fairly administered and worth the risk of an “irreversible mistake.”
The Newark Star-Ledger reports that without debate, the Senate voted 34-0 for a bill establishing a 13-member Death Penalty Study Commission; the measure was returned to Assembly for consideration of minor amendments. In 21 years since New Jersey reinstated the death penalty, no one has been executed. There are 14 men on death row.
“Recent reports have shown us that the death penalty system in New Jersey is broken,” said Sen. Shirley Turner. “There has been significant evidence of racial discrimination in capital sentencing, while there is a lack of sufficient evidence to justify its use as a deterrent.”
The commission would study whether capital punishment is “consistent with evolving standards of decency,” whether murderers condemned to die are significantly worse than those sentenced to life in prison, and whether the threat of capital punishment prevents some crimes.
The original version of the bill included a moratorium on executions, but the sponsor agreed to remove it to gain bipartisan support.