The Abolishment Of Capital Punishment In New Jersey

December 17th, 2007, marked a milestone in the constitution of New Jersey. The Governor Jon Corzine signed the abolition of death penalty, making New Jersey the first in the United States to repeal this cruelty against the Eight Amendment through legislation. Since the electrocution of Ralph Hudson in 1963, no death sentence has been executed in New Jersey. Following death penalties in the state were deferred on the order of The United States Supreme Court. The court then annulled death executions nationwide until the constitutionality of capital punishment was revised in 1976. However, it was not until 1982 that New Jersey enacted the new legislation. According the new statute, death sentence was only executed if homicide was intentional (this included contract killing). In 2005, the New Jersey senate proposed a moratorium, which was a period of suspension of all death sentences while the constitution was being investigated. This was signed by Governor Richard Coney in the following year. The New Jersey Death Penalty Commission was appointed to study all aspects of capital punishment and advise about its future in New Jersey. This commission was paneled by 13 members, which included legal specialists, religious leader and representatives of the victims’ families. After 6 hearings, a report was released on the 2nd of January 2007. Death sentence was reported to be a costly punishment, yet served minimal penological interests. The commission urged the abolition of capital punishment and substitution with life imprisonment without parole. The cost of a death execution was approximated to be at least a million dollars higher than a life execution without parole. According to the report, a life penalty in prison without parole not only would achieve as much as a death sentence would, in terms of the penological interests and the interests of the victims’ families, it also seemed to be a more justifiable punishment in modern civilisation. In 2007, the bill of replacing capital punishment with life prison without parole passed the senate with 8-4. Later in the year, this bill was signed by the governor. The abolition of death penalty proceeded in a relatively quick pace. From the moratorium and establishment of study commission to annulment of the penalty, it only took New Jersey about 2 years. This achievement ignited hopes in states such as, Maryland and South Dakota, after their once unfruitful works to free the states from death sentence. Within a decade after New Jersey’s success, a number of states, namely New Mexico, New York, and Illinois and Maryland, also achieved victory in the battle of abolishing capital punishment.