New Jersey votes to abolish the death penalty
January 2008

On December 13, the New Jersey State Legislature voted to repeal that state’s Death Penalty. “This vote is a victory for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, crime victim’s advocates and taxpayers,” states Mark Elliott, Executive Director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

The overwhelming and bipartisan vote to repeal New Jersey’s Death Penalty came after study, discussion and deliberation--and after hundreds and hundreds of hours of testimony from police, prosecutors, murder victims’ family members and others.

Their testimony was heard by a special commission, appointed to thoroughly study the pros and cons of the Death Penalty--“and to recommend what measures could be taken to fix the state’s Death Penalty statutes. The commission was made up of victims’ rights advocates, county prosecutors and other members of law enforcement, a retired New Jersey Supreme Court justice and many others.

The study found that there was no ‘fix’ for the Death Penalty. It found that it is a deeply flawed public policy. The commission further found that the Death Penalty squanders millions in tax dollars, does not serve a legitimate purpose such as crime deterrence, delays healing for the loved ones of murder victims and, despite many safeguards, carries no guarantee against our worst nightmare: “the execution of an innocent person.

After reviewing testimony of colossal costs (over $10 million a year), lack of deterrence, risk of executing innocents and detrimental effects on murder victims’ families, the New Jersey Legislature decided to shift the valuable resources spent pursuing executions over to programs for the survivors of homicide victims and support for law enforcement.

The same fatal flaws found in New Jersey’s system also plague Florida’s system, but to a much greater degree. Florida spends an estimated $51 million a year extra for a Death Penalty system that has killed 64 prisoners in almost 30 years. At the same time we have exonerated at least 22 people off our Death Row due to evidence of innocence. Says FADP’s Elliott, “At the same time, due to lack of resources, murder victim’s families wait for assistance, violent crimes go unsolved and crime prevention programs are cut back.”

During the past three decades Americans and their elected officials have learned much about the Death Penalty and the more they learn, the less they like it.

“Florida’s leaders can show the courage and common sense to do what New Jersey did - study the system and determine if executing a few already locked up prisoners is worth all the costs to communities, taxpayers and crime victims alike,” says Elliott. “Florida taxpayers deserve real solutions to real problems like violent crime. Our families have the right to live in a safer, more humane Florida.”

Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty ( works for restorative justice in the form of alternatives to the Death Penalty.

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