Killing the Death Penalty
Jeff Jacoby makes a passionate and a rational objection to the elimination of the death penalty in New Jersey. Personally I have reservations about the death penalty; there are times I think it is too merciful. I like the idea of locking a convicted murderer in a cell with photos and videos of the victim and their family and friends displayed 24/7.
from the Boston Globe:
Life and Death in New Jersey
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist
December 19, 2007
That’s the way it so often is with death-penalty opponents like Corzine: In their zeal to keep the guilty alive, they forget the innocents who have died. Their conscience is outraged by the death penalty, but only when it is lawfully applied to convicted murderers after due process of law. The far more frequent “death penalty” – the one imposed unlawfully on so many murder victims, often with wanton cruelty – doesn’t disturb their conscience nearly so much.
Nor do their consciences seem overly troubled by the additional lives lost when capital punishment is eliminated.
A widening sheaf of studies (some by scholars who personally oppose the death penalty) have found that each time a murderer is executed, between 3 and 18 additional homicides are deterred. To mention just one example, University of Houston professors Dale Cloninger and Roberto Marchesini studied the effect of the death-penalty moratorium declared by Illinois Governor George Ryan in 2000, and Ryan’s subsequent commutation of every death-row inmate’s sentence. Result: an estimated 150 additional murders in Illinois over the subsequent 48 months.
New Jersey hasn’t executed anyone since 1963, so the new law may be largely symbolic. But there is nothing symbolic about all the blood shed since the death penalty was abandoned 44 years ago. In 1963, there were 181 homicides in the Garden State. By 1970 there were more than 400, and by 1980, more than 500. In 2002, state officials calculated that on average, a murder was committed in New Jersey every 25 hours and 41 minutes.
While the murder rate since 2000 has declined modestly across the country, it has “jumped 44 percent in Jersey, up from 3.4 murders per 100,000 people to 4.9,” writes Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute. “Jersey’s increase in murders has been the sixth-highest in the country.”