[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- NEW YORK
j_sommer at gmx.net
Tue Apr 12 21:50:13 CDT 2005
death penalty news
April 12, 2005
New York State Legislative Committee Defeats Death Penalty; Vote Comes as
Skepticism of the Death Penalty Increases Nationwide
The New York State Assembly Codes Committee today defeated a bill to
reinstate New York's death penalty. The vote comes after five full days of
public testimony that the death penalty is riddled with flaws and wastes
millions of dollars. The Assembly's report of the hearing was released last
week, adding to a growing wave of voices questioning the death penalty
across the country.
"New York is not alone. There is a growing consensus in this country that
as a matter of policy, the death penalty is an expensive failure," said
Shari Silberstein, Co-Director of the Quixote Center, a national
faith-based organization working for a moratorium on executions while
questions of fairness are studied and addressed.
"The system is so riddled with flaws that even those who philosophically
believe the death penalty is acceptable are expressing concerns and, in
some cases, deciding that it simply isn't worth it," Silberstein continued.
"This recognition explains why virtually all of the 170 citizens who
offered testimony in New York wanted to leave the death penalty off the books."
New York has been without a death penalty since last summer, when the
state's Court of Appeals declared the statute unconstitutional. Efforts to
reinstate the death penalty have so far been unsuccessful, in part because
some former supporters of capital punishment have changed their positions
as a result of new information.
"For the past five years, the conversation around the death penalty has
expanded to include questions of innocence, fairness, and alternatives,"
said Silberstein. "It is increasingly clear that the very real risk of
executing the innocent, not to mention the expense and effort required to
even try and improve the system, has led people to turn away from the death
penalty in recent years."
Observers point to a growing skepticism about the death penalty among
local, state, and federal legislators and within the judiciary. The United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently reinvigorated their call to
abolish the death penalty citing new statistics that shows less than 50% of
Catholics now support the capital punishment. New Jersey remains under
court- ordered moratorium. Legislation to abolish the practice passed the
New Mexico House of Representatives in February, and a similar bill
received 60 votes in the Connecticut legislature last month. The U.S.
Supreme Court also barred the execution of juveniles earlier this year.
Nearly 4,000 groups, churches, business, and professional associations have
called for a moratorium on executions, including 142 city, town, and county
councils. Even President Bush expressed open concern about the quality of
death penalty trials during his most recent State of the Union Address.
Also recently, Republican Senators Rick Santorum (PA) and Sam Brownback
(KS) have expressed reservations. "Over the past five years we've learned a
lot about the realities of capital punishment. We know it costs far more
than life in prison, that it creates ongoing anguish for victims' families,
that it diverts scarce resources from other critical programs, that it is
used unevenly and unfairly, and that it risks executing the innocent," said
Silberstein. "New Yorkers have expressed today what the rest of us across
the country are continuing to learn - that our nation's death penalty
system is broken."
The Quixote Center is a national organization founded in 1976. The Center's
Equal Justice USA program pioneered the national grassroots movement for a
moratorium on executions in 1997. Nationwide, over 3,700 national and local
groups, businesses, and faith communities have called for a halt to
executions, including 142 local governments. (For a complete listing, call
301-699- 0042 or see the National Tally at http://www.ejusa.org ).
(source: U.S. Newswire)
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