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The death penalty

Developments during 2007

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2007 developments:

bullet2007-JAN-02: NJ: The New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission recommends end to death penalty: The Commission issued a report concluding that executions in the state serves no legitimate penological intent. They recommend that the state abolish the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment with no possibility of parole. 1
bullet2007-JAN-26: MD: Maryland may be next New England state to abolish death penalty: A previous governor, Parris Glendening (D), had established a moratorium on executions during the early 2000s. He was replaced with Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr (R) in 2003 who reinstated executions. Also in 2003, the University of Maryland released a study indicating racial bias in sentencing. A murderer of a white person was twice as likely to get a death sentence than a murderer of a black person. Recently. the Maryland Court of Appeals terminated the use of executions by lethal injection because of concerns that the procedure might constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Now, State Senator Lisa A. Gladden (D-Baltimore) and Delegate Samuel I. Rosenberg, (D-Baltimore), are sponsoring bills to end the state's death penalty and replace it with with a prison sentence of life without parole. Governor Martin O'Malley said that he would sign such a bill into law if approved by the General Assembly.  He said:

"We waste a lot of money pursuing a policy that doesn't work to reduce crime or to save lives, but we could be putting that money into crime reduction. I'm much more in favor of life without parole."

There are six convicts on death row at the present time whose lives are at stake. 2

bullet2007-AUG-22: TX: Texas executes 400th person since 1982: Johnny Ray Connor was executed for the murder of a grocery clerk during a failed robbery in 1998. He was the 400th person to be executed by the state since Texas resumed capital punishment in 1982. About 17 opponents of the death penalty gathered in Houston to protest the execution. Hooman Hedayati, of Texas Students Against the Death Penalty said: "It's the 400th execution in Texas. That's really important because it shows how Texas executes people. It needs to stop. It's a barbaric practice." 3
bullet2007-NOV-1: Canada: Strong opposition to death penalty: Canada abolished the death penalty in 1967 in spite of strong public support in favor of continuing executions. Ever since, the Federal government has gone to bat for Canadian citizens on death row in foreign countries. They have tried to trade their death sentence for life imprisonment in Canada. This policy came to a crashing halt on NOV-1 when Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day announced that the Federal government would no longer seek clemency for Canadians on death row if they had been convicted in "a democratic country that supports the rule of law."

A Canadian Press- Decima survey taken a few days later found that 50% of those sampled opposed this policy, whereas 43% supported it and 7% were undecided. As expected, younger, female, and urban voters and those not supporting the Conservative Party were more likely to be against the government's position. Prime Minister Harper has stated that he does not plan to bring back the noose in the future.
4
bullet2007-DEC-17: NH: New Jersey abolishes death penalty: New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine signed a bill that replaced the state's death penalty with life in prison and no possibility of parole. New Jersey became the first U.S. state to abolish the death penalty in 40 years. The bill had passed the legislature with the vast majority of Democrats voting in favor, and Republicans voting against. 5 More details
bullet2007-DEC-18: World: The UN General assembly calls for a moratorium on the death penalty: The United Nations passed a non-binding resolution promoting a worldwide moratorium on the use of the death penalty. The vote was 104 to 54, with 29 abstentions. The U.S. joined with a number of dictatorships including Syria, Iran and China to vote against the resolution. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the vote as "a bold step by the international community." Amnesty International and Hands Off Cain, both of which oppose the death penalty, were also pleased. 6

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References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission Report," 2007-JAN, at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/ This is a PDF file.
  2. Brian Witte, "Maryland considers repeal of death penalty," The Washington Times, 2007-JAN-26, at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/
  3. Rosanna Ruiz, "Texas executes 400th person since 1982," Knight Ridder Tribune, 2007-AUG-23, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  4. "50% oppose death-penalty policy shift, survey finds," The Toronto Star, 2007-NOV-13, Page A21.
  5. Tom Hester, Jr., "Some Decry N.J. Death Penalty Abolition," Associated Press, 2007-DEC-18, at: http://ap.google.com/
  6. "UN General Assembly passes worldwide death penalty moratorium," Jurist Legal News & Research, 2007-DEC-18, at: http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/

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Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2007-JAN-28
Last updated: 2007-DEC-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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