Star Ledger: Jersey's proud moment
2007-12-19 - JERSEY'S PROUD MOMENT (Published Monday, December 17, 2007) New Jersey once was justifiably proud of its reputation as a forward-looking state, for its efforts to provide a quality education for all children, no matter where they lived, for encouraging construction of affordable housing throughout the state, for its excellent judiciary. Lately, though, New Jersey more often than not has signified corruption and crime. Last week, New Jersey regained its place among progressive states when it abolished the death penalty. It took both Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate and the Assembly to make the decision, which was heart-wrenching for many. But it was the right one. Gov. Jon Corzine signs the bill today. Men who had voted in 1982 to reintroduce the death penalty -- such as Senate President Richard Codey -- and officials -- such as Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio -- who prosecute murderers said the time had come to recognize that the death penalty was not good public policy. Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts put it best: "It is simply not for us to decide who should live and who should die." In an era of polarizing, partisan politics, the men and women of New Jersey's Legislature rose above the mire to do the right thing. © 2007 The Star Ledger
2007-12-18 - On this Blog you can see some short video clips and some other links to the bill signing and other moments in the whirlwind of the past few weeks, when YEARS of protracted debate and public education and mobilization finally came to a head....
Death Row Disappears As Corzine Signs Bill
2007-12-17 - "Today New Jersey is truly evolving," Corzine told about 200 people packed into his outer office in the Statehouse for the bill-signing ceremony. "Society must determine if its endorsement of violence begets violence and undermines the sanctity of life. ... I answer yes, and therefore I believe we must evolve to ending that endorsement."
2007-12-17 - In a contemplative and at times emotional speech, Mr. Corzine spoke of morality and practicality, saying that ï¿½state-endorsed killingï¿½ was amoral public policy. Mr. Corzine, who said he has believed for most of his adult life that capital punishment is wrong, seemed to be making more than just a perfunctory political statement at a bill-signing ceremony.
2007-12-15 - NY Times Editorial: "It took 31 years, but the moral bankruptcy, social imbalance, legal impracticality and ultimate futility of the death penalty has finally penetrated the consciences of lawmakers in one of the 37 states that arrogates to itself the right to execute human beings."
Assembly OKs measure to end N.J. executions
2007-12-14 - "The lawmakers voted 44-36 to replace the state's never-used death penalty with life in prison without parole. The Senate passed the bill Monday. Gov. Jon Corzine said yesterday he expects to sign it in a matter of days, making New Jersey the first state to repeal its capital punishment law in more than 30 years."
2007-12-13 - TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The New Jersey Assembly approved legislation Thursday to abolish the state's death penalty, making Gov. Jon S. Corzine's signature the only step left before the state becomes the first in four decades to ban executions.
2007-12-13 - "Please don't give all the credit to me -- there have been so many people working on this," she said. She specifically credits Lorrie Post, an anti-death penalty advocate whose daughter was murdered. Fitzgerald got involved when she read about him.
2007-12-03 - A compelling case against the death penalty Monday, December 03, 2007 BY RAYMOND J. LESNIAK AND CHRISTOPHER BATEMAN "Although we are legislators from different parties, one an urban Democrat and another a suburban Republican who have more often than not been at odds over state issues, we believe that the time has come to replace New Jersey's death penalty with a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole...."
2007-11-26 - "...If you haven't lived it, you can't know. But I lived it. And I know. A serial killer ripped Deirdre away from us in 1982. My family had no idea, then, that our ordeal was just beginning. All we knew was that the worst of the worst had happened, and the person who did it should pay the ultimate price -- the death penalty....
2007-11-24 - "There are no words to describe the shock and horror of that day. The loss of our three angels has left a wound in our family that will never heal. It is from this place of deep loss that we write today...."
2007-11-21 - Star Ledger 11/21/07: ... Shortly before the news conference, New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty released a letter signed by 19 law enforcement officials urging lawmakers to replace capital punishment with life in prison with no hope of parole. "First and foremost, our goal is to prevent crime and protect New Jersey's citizens," the law enforcement officials wrote. "Given the choice, we would rather see resources used to put more police on the streets, increase our capacity to catch and prosecute lower level crimes so that murderers are stopped before an innocent life is lost, and help survivors of homicide victims as they struggle to heal."
2007-11-19 - Bob Braun writing in the Star-Ledger: "....Halsey has been reluctant to tell his story since his release in May, to allow himself again to be the target of attention, the way he was during his trial in Elizabeth. "They said I was a monster, everybody wanted to stone me," he says. And when, in an obvious jury compromise, he was spared death, people in the courtroom booed....."
2007-11-19 - Hudson County prosecutor Edward DeFazio writes in The Record: "We listened to the countless victims' family members who pleaded with us to end the charade and give future survivors a chance to find the peace and healing that they themselves had been denied. In short, these families said to us, "This death penalty has failed us, and don't you dare keep it in our name." Our commission had an important job to do, and we did it. We chose to follow the evidence and, when we did, the answer became obvious. The death penalty's time is finally up."
2007-11-18 - Former Ocean County Prosecutor Kelaher in Asbury Park Press: "We've had a death penalty for 24 years without a single execution, at a price tag of $250 million. It has been a cruel hoax on the families of victims who wait for the myth of finality that never comes. It has clogged our courts and has been a bane to the good men and women of our state charged with keeping the public safe. The strain on prosecution budgets is enormous and the cost in human terms is incalculable. New Jerseyans deserve better. We can't wait any longer."
2007-11-09 - TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Legislature will vote within the next two months on whether to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life without parole, officials said Friday after the Roman Catholic nun of "Dead Man Walking" fame visited a key legislative leader.
2007-11-09 - Star-Ledger: ....At a Statehouse news conference with Sister Helen Prejean, whose ministry to death row inmates was described in her book "Dead Man Walking," Roberts said he is committed to making New Jersey "the first state to legislatively repeal the death penalty."
2007-05-15 - Byron Halsey, who faced the death penalty when he was wrongfully convicted in 1988 of the brutal murders of two children, will walk out of a New Jersey courthouse a free man today (May 15, 2007) for the first time in two decades. DNA testing has shown that another man committed the sexual assault and murder of a 7-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy in Plainfield, NJ, and the Innocence Project joined with prosecutors in filing a motion to overturn the conviction.
2007-04-26 - Following up on a handful of investigations spearheaded by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) with a group of committed cooperating attorneys, the Innocence Project, The Justice Project, and students at Columbia, Michigan and several other law schools, some of the nation's best investigative journalists and leading newspapers have recently exposed grave errors leading to the execution of innocent people. Click on the link. Read the report.
2007-01-24 - NJADP PRESS RELEASE: "This poll demonstrates that a majority of New Jerseyans agree with the conclusion of the distinguished Death Penalty Study Commission, which is that the death penalty in our state is a failed experiment in every respect and should be replaced with the tough punishment of life in prison without parole," said Celeste Fitzgerald, program director of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
2007-01-22 - The Gloucester County Times: "Now, 14 years later, Bloodsworth is speaking about his time behind bars, making a stop at the United Methodist Church in Mantua Township Monday night with the New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty."
2007-01-20 - The Courier Post: "After founding the South Camden Theatre Company, Paprzycki wants to confront people with life-changing dramatic issues. He does it this week with a production of The Exonerated, a play dealing with death-row inmates exonerated before they could be executed."
2007-01-14 - A registered Republican, Abbott surprised even himself when he voted to recommend abolishing the death penalty. "I have no personal aversion to the death penalty if it is carried out and done properly," Abbott said. "But I have no confidence that the state Legislature will see that that happens."
2007-01-08 - "Capital punishment demands infallibility, which is impossible. So unless you are willing to accept the possibility of executing an innocent person, the death penalty must be off the table."
2007-01-05 - "TRENTON, N.J. (CNS) - Catholic officials have praised the recommendation by a New Jersey panel that the state abolish the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without parole."
2007-01-04 - "THE recommendation that New Jersey abolish the death penalty is welcome. The governor and the Legislature should take the advice of the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission and end capital punishment in this state."
2007-01-04 - "About this time last year, Galloway Township resident Eddie Hicks learned that he had been appointed by Governor Corzine to the state's Death Penalty Study Commission (NJDPSC). It was one of Corzine's first acts as Governor and Hicks was certainly honored to have been chosen...."
2007-01-03 - National Public Radio: "The 13-member legislative panel is made of prosecutors, a police chief, members of the clergy, and representatives of families of murder victims. The vote to rescind the death penalty was 12 to 1. The group's report found that the penalty was "inconsistent with evolving standards of decency." Melissa Block talks with James Abbott, police chief of West Orange, N.J., who is a member of the commission."
2007-01-03 - Northjersey.com - "In its 127-page report, the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission recommended abolishing capital punishment. It pointed out that the state hasn't carried out an execution since 1963 and said it found no evidence that the death sentence "rationally serves a legitimate penological intent."
2007-01-01 - On Memorial Day 2000, in High Point, N.C., Hicks's daughter was murdered, shot in the head by a man who was threatening to shoot her brother. Twenty-six-year-old Jamila Hicks died instantly, leaving two young children, a brother who remains traumatized, and a father who not only opposes capital punishment, but fights it, ardently — even in the case of his daughter's killer.