On December 10, 2007, the New Jersey Senate voted 21-16 to abolish the state's death penalty. The New Jersey House passed the bill three days later by a vote of 44-36. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jon Corzine on December 17, 2007. Policymakers had cited the high cost of capital punishment, and its lack of deterrent value, as the rationale behind the bill. When the bill became law, eight New Jersey prisoners on death row had their sentences automatically commuted to life in prison. Though New Jersey had not executed anyone since 1963, it became the first US state to abolish capital punishment since the practice was reinstated in 1976 by the US Supreme Court in Gregg v. Georgia.
Learn more about New Jersey and the death penalty from the JURIST news archive, and read commentary on New Jersey's abolition of capital punishment from Terry Kay Rockefeller in Hotline.