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Ray Lesniak, a New Jersey democrat and former supporter of the death penalty said:he changed his mind largely because of the risk of executing an innocent person.

The important point in considering the abolition of capital punishment is just this–to insure not putting an innocent person to death.

There are, of course, other reasons to not put a convicted felon to death that include issues of ethics and humanity, but I will leave those aside for the purposes of this post. Here, what is most important is that innocent people are sent to death row and are put to death by the state and that is simply unacceptable. The standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is, in the case of capital crime, flawed. Replacing that standard with “beyond ANY doubt” might address the issue to a greater extent, but when a verdict depends on the presentation of a zealous prosecutor it is subject to being flawed.

Hooray for the courage of the New Jersey legislature. I can only hope that the Illinois General Assembly will follow suit.

clipped from www.reuters.com
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – New Jersey lawmakers will consider abolishing the death penalty this week, starting a process that could see the liberal state become the first to scrap capital punishment since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated it in 1976.
On Thursday, the judiciary committee of the state Senate will consider two bills calling for New Jersey to replace execution with life imprisonment without parole. Capital punishment in the state is already suspended under a moratorium passed by legislators in late 2005.
Sen. Ray Lesniak, a Democrat and sponsor of one of the bills, said he was confident that a combined bill would be passed by the panel and, while its fate in the full Senate was less certain, it was likely that the legislation would become law some time this summer.
Lesniak, a former supporter of the death penalty, said he had changed his mind largely because of the risk of executing an innocent person.

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