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New Jersey Abolishes the Death Penalty, and the Colosseum Lights Up in Tribute

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This past week, the New Jersey legislature joined the civilized world and voted to abolish the death penalty in that state. With this move, New Jersey becomes the first state to abolish the death penalty since the Supreme Court reinstated it as a sentencing option back in 1976.

Governor Corzine plans to sign this legislation within the next few days.

Kudos to the New Jersey lawmakers for recognizing that revenge isn't justice, and that it makes no sense to kill someone who killed someone in order to show that killing is wrong.

Enough killing.

Some pro-execution folks believe that New Jersey is being soft on crime. They're afraid that New Jersey will now allow killers to run free. This is not a valid argument. Instead of executing those found guilty of such serious crimes, New Jersey will now lock them up and throw away the key. Life in prison without parole. Let them live in those horrible conditions and spend each day thinking about why they're there. That's a much harsher penalty than a quick death, in my opinion.

And now New Jersey will also no longer run the real risk of executing the wrong person.

And it gets even better: In a tradition dating back to 1999, the Colosseum in Rome is dramatically lit up every time a death sentence is commuted somewhere in the world or a country abolishes capital punishment. And now Rome says it will be lighting up the Colosseum in honor of New Jersey's abolition of the death penalty.

What a fitting tribute to the fact that New Jersey has finally seen the light!

Today, 38 other states in this nation still retain a perceived right to kill people. Hopefully, one by one, they will join New Jersey and the rest of the civilized world and choose justice over revenge.

Let's keep the Colosseum shining brightly.



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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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