[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----NEW YORK
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 29 10:10:28 CST 2004
Death penalty backers fear N.Y. law may fizzle
Death penalty supporters are complaining that an Assembly plan to hold
hearings on the state's flawed capital punishment statute is a stalling
tactic that will only kill the law.
"This is just an attempt to destroy any chance of fixing the death penalty
law," state Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said yesterday.
The state's highest court tossed out key parts of the state's 1995 death
penalty law five months ago, sending it back to lawmakers for a fix.
At the time, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said the
Legislature would "take appropriate action" to respond to the sentencing
flaws flagged by the Court of Appeals.
But as the Democrat-led Assembly prepares to hold hearings Dec. 15 in
Manhattan and Jan. 25 in Albany, Silver is now talking about if - not when
- the statute will be restored. "The Legislature is now faced with the
profound question of whether the death penalty should be reinstated," said
Silver, who voted for the original law and says he still supports capital
punishment. "And, if so, what form any new statute should take."
The hearings will probe the effectiveness and cost of the statute, and
whether there are "appropriate safeguards" to protect "innocent people"
from execution, Assembly leaders said.
As death penalty supporters seethe at the delay, foes are thrilled. "We
need to take a look at this before anyone gets executed in New York," said
Damaris McGuire, former director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty.
She and other critics say the $175 million the state has spent on capital
punishment prosecutions since 1995 would have been better spent on crime
prevention programs. No one has been executed since the law went back on
But supporters argue that the debate should have ended when Gov. Pataki
pushed through the law with overwhelming bipartisan support to satisfy a
key campaign promise. "The Assembly doesn't need to do hearings," said
Marcia White, a spokeswoman for Senate GOP leader Joe Bruno
(R-Rensselaer). "The Assembly needs to pass a bill that corrects the
(source: New York Daily News)
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