New York State Death Penalty Restoration Iffy


Top Democrats in the New York Assembly expect a bill to reinstitute the death penalty in New York State to fail when it gets to a committee for a vote next week, reports the New York Times. That is a signal of resistance among the sizable Democratic majority in the Assembly that could doom longer-term efforts to restore the death penalty. The bill would correct a provision about jury instructions in capital cases that the state’s highest court ruled unconstitutional last June. The death penalty has been in limbo since then. The Republican-led Senate has voted in favor of fixing the law.

Some lawmakers prefer the option of life without parole, which was not available a decade ago when the Democratic-led Assembly backed death penalty legislation. If the committee blocks the bill, it is highly unlikely that the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver will bow to Republican pressure and allow a floor vote anyway. Silver is a supporter of capital punishment who voted for the 1995 law. “Our whole point is that if we can get the bill to the floor of the Assembly, we know it will pass there,” said Charles H. Nesbitt, the Republican minority leader. “We believe if the Assembly is asked to take an up or down vote on the death penalty, a majority will support it as an option for New York’s criminal justice system.”


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