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Assembly Committee Passes Turner Measure To Study Death Penalty

TRENTON – Senate President Pro Tempore Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer, made the following statement today regarding the approval of S-709, her bill that would place a moratorium on the use of the death penalty while a Study Commission investigates its use by the State, by the Assembly Judiciary Committee:

“I am glad the Assembly has once again decided to consider this critical piece of legislation that received bipartisan support in both houses two years ago. It was a disappointment to many people of great conscience when Governor McGreevey then vetoed this bill in the waning hours of the last session of the Legislature, denying us the ability to overturn the veto.

“Now, with the support of Governor Codey and Assembly Majority Leader Roberts, we will finally put a moratorium in place that will give us the time to study the flaws that are evident in our death penalty system and determine if New Jersey truly needs or wants to retain capital punishment.

“Nationally, there is documented bias in the death penalty system in terms of race and economic status. Additionally, there are questions as to whether the effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent is worth the more than $250 million dollars that has been spent since 1982 on trying death penalty cases.

“My colleagues on both sides of the aisle have recognized the need for our criminal justice system to be both efficient and fair to all residents regardless of their backgrounds. I join them in eagerly awaiting the findings of the study commission.”