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New Jersey Assembly passes death penalty abolition bill

[JURIST] The New Jersey Assembly [official website] voted 44-36 Thursday to pass a bill [A3716, PDF] replacing the state current death penalty [JURIST news archive] with life imprisonment. The bill now goes to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine [official website], who is expected to sign it. The New Jersey Senate Monday voted 21-16 [JURIST report] to pass a similar bill [S171 text, PDF]. If signed, the bill would make New Jersey the first US state to abolish capital punishment since the US Supreme Court reinstated it nationally in 1976. AP has more.

Bill proponents, including Corzine, have argued that capital punishment spends more tax dollars than life in prison without parole [Senate report, PDF; NYT op-ed], and say that capital punishment statistically does not deter homicide. A report [PDF text; JURIST report] released in January and endorsed by 12 of the 13 members of the New Jersey Death Penalty Commission [official website] concluded that there was "no compelling evidence that the New Jersey death penalty rationally serves a legitimate penological intent," although there was "increasing evidence that the death penalty is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency."

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