A bill imposing a year-long moratorium on executions in New Jersey and launching a study on whether capital punishment is fair and worth the cost heads to the state Assembly on Monday, the Newark Star-Ledger says. Opponents say the bill is designed to find reasons to end the death penalty in the state. Committee Chairwoman Linda Greenstein said a system that hasn’t executed an inmate since capital punishment was reinstated 23 years ago is broken.
In November, opponents of capital punishment and a Trenton-based liberal think tank issued a study that said the death penalty has cost taxpayers $253 million since it was reinstated in 1982. The Senate passed an identical bill last month and acting Gov. Richard Codey has said he would likely support the moratorium. A 13-member commission of lawmakers, prosecutors, a public defender, a representative of the New Jersey State Bar Association and relatives of murder victims would be created to study whether capital punishment is “discriminatory in any way” and “consistent with evolving standards of decency.” The commission would have until Nov. 15 to report.