Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

New Jersey and death penalty

The decision of New Jersey legislature to abolish death penalty is bad. The Senate voted 21-16 and the Assembly voted 44-36 for abolition.
A commission had given three reasons for abolition:
1) Death penalty was a more expensive sentence than life in prison.
2) Death penalty hasn’t deterred murder.
3) Death penalty could kill innocent people.
It seems the commission had made up its mind beforehand and found excuses to abolish death penalty. The reasons given by the commission are wrong. Let us examine the reasons.
1) Death penalty was a more expensive sentence than life in prison.
Death penalty is not a more expensive sentence than life in prison. What is the cost of putting a murderer to death? What is cost of keeping a murderer in prison for many years? Life sentence is many times more expensive than death penalty.
2) Death penalty hasn’t deterred murder.
Death penalty prevents murder is proved by an Associated Press report dt. 11 June 2007 that can be accessed on www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19160965. I had mentioned this in a previous blog article.
The report points to a series of academic studies over the last half-dozen years that claim that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer.
It quotes Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it. The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.”
“The results are robust, they don’t really go away. I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?”
Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that suggest capital punishment has deterrent effects.
In 1970s economist Isaac Ehrlich had also concluded that executions deterred future crimes. His 1975 report was cited in papers before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing for a reversal of the court’s 1972 suspension of executions. The court, in 1976, reinstated the death penalty.
Nobody was executed in New Jersey since 1963. On what basis the commission came to this conclusion?
3) Death penalty could kill innocent people.
No innocent person shall be punished. But 100 criminals going scotree is not justice. The accused have the right to defend themselves and prove their innocence. The courts decide. Many times murderers escape due to lack of proof or witness.
Death by lethal injection is contested. Those who oppose death penalty will contest death by any method.
Governor Jon S. Corzine must return the bill.

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