JSPAN Urges Abolition of Death Penalty in New Jersey

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The following letter was sent to members of the New Jersey state legislature. Re: Senate Bill S-171 Dear Senator : We urge you to vote in favor of Senate Bill S-171, as approved by an 8-2 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 10, 2007. This bill would carry out the sound and sage recommendations of the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission, set forth in its report issued on January 2, 2007, which found: There is increasing evidence that the death penalty is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency; * Abolition of the death penalty will eliminate the risk of disproportionality in capital sentencing; * The penological interest in executing a small number of persons guilty of murder is not sufficiently compelling to justify the risk of making an irreversible mistake; * The alternative of life imprisonment in a maximum security institution without the possibility of parole would sufficiently ensure public safety and address other legitimate social and penological interests, including the interests of the families of murder victims For some of us, eliminating the death penalty is compelled by a moral imperative and our belief that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment that is at odds with our best traditions, fosters a culture of violence, and teaches our children the wrongheaded lesson that the way to settle scores is through violence, even to the point of taking a human life. For those of us who do not oppose the death penalty in all circumstances on these grounds, the very same position is nonetheless compelled by the reality that the death penalty is not and can never be applied in a manner that is guaranteed to be accurate, fair, and equitable. Thank you for your time on this important social justice issue. Sincerely, Jeffrey I. Pasek President