On January 9, 2006, the New Jersey Assembly passed S-709, a bill that would establish a moratorium on executions while a legislative commission conducts an in-depth study of the death penalty. The Assembly passed the legislation by a vote of 55-21, with two abstentions. The Senate approved it 30-6 last month. New Jersey becomes the first state to legislatively mandate a moratorium on executions (an executively-ordered moratorium remains in effect in Illinois). Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey has promised to sign the bill before leaving office on January 17.
"We congratulate all AIUSA activists in New Jersey, especially our co-State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinators, Lorry Post and Celeste Fitzgerald, who have worked tirelessly to ensure this result," said Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, Director of AIUSA's Program to Abolish the Death Penalty. "We believe that the moratorium will provide public officials and citizens in New Jersey with the necessary space to reflect on the death penalty and to engage in constructive dialogue on this highly charged issue. We are confident that a close examination of this fatally flawed system will lead to its ultimate rejection by the people of New Jersey."