NJ Closer to Banning Death Penalty

Senators pass bill to nix it, and governor has vowed to sign
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2007 5:51 PM CST
NJ Closer to Banning Death Penalty
Richard Kanka, father of murder victim Megan Kanka, speaks out against ending the death penalty as he addresses a New Jersey Assembly committee Monday, Dec. 10, 2007, in Trenton, N.J., during hearings on a proposal to abolish the death penalty. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)   (Associated Press)

New Jersey senators nudged the state closer to a likely ban on capital punishment today, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. They passed a bill to nix the penalty by 21-16, sending it to expected approval in the assembly Thursday and signing by Governor Jon Corzine. New Jersey would become the first state to ban capital punishment since 1965, although it hasn't used the penalty in more than 40 years.

"We're not going to use it. We shouldn't use it. Let's end it now," said one Democrat in the senate debate, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. But others opposed the move, including the parents of Megan Kanka, whose murderer is one of eight men on New Jersey's death row, the AP reports. Death row inmates "are the worst of the worst in our society, and to offer them the opportunity of life is a disgrace," they wrote to lawmakers. (Read more New Jersey stories.)

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