Back in 2007: Hats Off to New Jersey!

I’m a little late with this post, but it was an important one so what the hey! On December 17, 2007, New Jersey repealed their death penalty. Here’s my blog entry from that day:

I couldn’t have been more excited than I was this afternoon to learn that at least one of the 50 states has its head on straight, or so to speak. New Jersey has officially repealed the death penalty, outlawing any form of capital punishment within the state. My hope now is that all states will follow.This is historic news and happy news at that for those of us against the death penalty, preferring what NJ is now doing with the prisoners on death row: life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Governor Jon Corzine signed the repeal, with similar sentiments to my own, declaring an end to “state-endorsed killing,” and identifying New Jersey as a model for other states.


Because I could not have put it in better words myself, I will requote Corzine as quoted in The New York Times: “Today New Jersey is truly evolving,” he said. “I believe society first must determine if its endorsement of violence begets violence, and if violence undermines our commitment to the sanctity of life. To these questions, I answer yes.”

New York is a state that has essentially ruled out the death penalty, if not by passing a law, by letting a decision stand without updating a past law. The State Supreme Court found flaws in the state’s death penalty law in 2004, and legislators let the decision stand.

To continue with the third state making up the Tri-State Area, Connecticut has been debating the abolishment of its own capital punishment law for years now. Death penalty opponents have been optimistic about the outlawing of it being close, until this past summer when two inmates out on appeal committed a grisly crime in Cheshire, raping, killing and burning a mother and her two daughters. It is now, once again, a topic of heated debate.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for murderers and rapists. I despise these monsters as much as the next person. But I maintain my view that putting them to death is #1. Unethical #2. Lowering ourselves to their level and #3. NOT A PUNISHMENT. Being put out of your misery is the easy way out, not a means to prove to the killer that what he/she did was wrong. Put them in prison for life without parole where they were waste away in a cell for the rest of their lives. That sounds a hell of a lot worse than being put to sleep by a lethal injection – which, by the way, does not always work anyway. Can we say, ‘Cruel and Unusual’?

The death penalty and murders are a topic of debate not just for lawyers and the government, but for the mainstream citizen as well. There have always been cop shows depicting the scum of the earth being brought to justice. But as of last year a new hero emerged on the screen and, guess what? He’s a killer. Dexter is a show based on a book by Jeff Lindsay about a serial killer who kills serial killers. 

Enticed? I definitely was. 

From the first episode of Season One, I was hooked. Primarily, I have always been intrigued by serial killers and what makes them tick. Dexter allows you to see the thought process of one of these people better than ever, the character played by the ever-talented Michael C. Hall. Having rapped on the finale of the second season just last night, Dexter has attracted millions of fans and will be coming back for a third go in 2008.

Even though many – most – murderers are unlike Dexter who lives by a code and only slices up bad people who would kill others if he didn’t, when you see into the lives of these people, you realize how inhumane all killing is. Killing is killing, death is death. The priest who rapes and murders little boys begs for his life when Dexter stands above him with the knife. The barman who was an accomplice in the chainsaw death of Dexter’s mother whimpers on the table before the serial killer puts an end to him. Staring death in the face, we are all the same.

When our states kill people, we are doing just what those people did. We are the killers, no different from the murderers we are doing away with. In a way, I suppose you could say the states are like Dexter. They play God as a means to assure that nobody else will be lost at the hands of these convicts. But, nobody will be hurt if these people are put behind bars forever either. And by doing that instead, we are not committing murder; we are not condoning or justifying killing as we do now.

This is something to think about as capital punishment comes up for discussion on the state-level now that New Jersey has set a precedent.

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Filed under Death Penalty, General Updates, Social Justice

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