NJ Formally Outlaws Death Penalty

Governor signs controversial bill, says state is 'truly evolving'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2007 1:23 PM CST
New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine, center, signs a bill replacing the state%u2019s death penalty with life in prison without any possibility of parole, Monday, Dec. 17, 2007 at the State House in Trenton,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – New Jersey officially abolished the death penalty today, becoming the first state to ban capital punishment in the 4 decades since the US Supreme Court allowed the practice to resume. "Today, New Jersey is truly evolving," Gov. Jon Corzine said as he signed the measure, which sped through the legislature amid contentious debate in the glare of national media attention, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.

"New Jersey is setting a precedent that I'm confident other states will follow," said a state legislator. The governor commuted the sentences of the eight men on death row yesterday, the AP reports. The issue is currently moot in the US, where executions are suspended while the Supreme Court considers whether lethal injection qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.