The State Legislature is preparing to act on the bill to abolish the death penalty and substitute a sentence of life without parole. Joe and I have strongly supported this legislation for a variety of reasons–both moral and practical. The number of people exonerated by DNA evidence grows every day, and here in Plainfield we are acutely aware of the recent exoneration and release of Byron Halsey, who fortunately did not receive a death sentence but who spent two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has already approved release of the bill, but it was referred to the Senate Budget Committee for analysis and action. That group will have a hearing and vote on Monday, December 3, so it’s important to reach out to the Committee’s key members now. The bill is S-171. Here is some contact information:
Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny: 201-653-1466 (SenKenny@njleg.org)
Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance: 908-788-6900 (SenLance@njleg.org)
Monday’s meeting is at 1 pm in Committee Room 4 of the State House Annex. If you can attend, it’s suggested that you plan to arrive before 12:30 so you can get a seat–and please let our friends at New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty know you’re coming (609-278-6719 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (There’s a lot of good information on their website: www.njadp.org.)
We expect that the appropriate Assembly Committee will take up the bill soon and release it for a full Assembly vote, and we hope the bill will be released by the Senate Budget Committee for a full Senate vote before the end of this legislative session.
Editorial opinion in NJ papers and the NY Times supports us. Here’s today’s editorial from the Philadelphia Inquirer: http://www.philly.co…
Wouldn’t abolishing the death penalty in NJ be a wonderful way to end 2007!!