While opponents of the death penalty have long argued that the U.S. system of capital punishment is fatally flawed, even proponents are beginning to question its fundamental fairness. Over the last 25 years, for example, more than 100 innocent people have been released from death rows around the country. In addition, it is estimated that some two thirds of all death sentences are reversed on appeal.
Two years ago, concern about the unfairness of the system led Republican Governor George Ryan of Illinois to enact a state-wide moratorium on executions after more people were freed from death row than were executed.. This year, Democratic Governor Parris Glendening imposed a moratorium in Maryland citing the need "to be absolutely sure of the integrity" of the death penalty process.
Now, to address similar concerns about the application of the death penalty in New Jersey, State Assemblymen Alfred Steele (D) and Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R) and Senator Shirley Turner (D) have sponsored a bill ( A-1913 / S1112 ) enacting a suspension of executions in the state while a Commission can conduct a comprehensive capital punishment study.
Take Action! Urge Governor McGreevey to support a death penalty moratorium.
Resolve questions of unfairness in the death penalty!
There is overwhelming evidence that innocent people are at risk of execution.
Since 1973, 102 persons have been released from death rows in 25 states because of their actual innocence. Nationwide, for every eight people executed, one person is exonerated. Numerous studies have shown that one in seven people sent to death row is innocent. A Columbia University's study on error rate in capital cases shows that New Jersey's reversal rate is far above the national average of 68 percent.
New Jersey must reassess its death penalty system before executing anybody.
New Jersey may carry out the first execution in almost 40 years in the next 12 to 18 months. With growing evidence that the death penalty system is flawed, the state must not resume executions.