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New Jersey and Illinois Join Michigan in Abolishing the Death Penalty

Updated on November 11, 2011

Illinois Abolishes the Death Penalty, March 11, 2011

Illinois joined New Jersey, Michigan and 14 other states and nearly all civilized countries in abolishing the death penalty. More than a dozen individuals who were convicted and sentenced to death were found to be innocent and released. Congratulations to Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois legislature and the citizens of Illinois for joining fifteen other states and most of the civilized world in banning capital punishment.

New Jersey's Electric Chair "Old Smokey"

New Jersey Panel Supports Abolishing the Death Penalty

A blue ribbon panel appointed a year ago, after the state legislature voted to appoint a commission to study the issue after a moratorium was declared in 2004 by the New Jersey supreme court, recently voted 12 to one to recommend abolishing the death penalty in the garden state. Recently elected Governor Jon Corzine (former U.S. Senator, former CEO of Goldman Sachs) has long been an opponent of the death penalty.

According to an article in today's NY Times, the political climate is ripe for abolishing the death penalty in NJ where the last execution took place in 1963. New Jersey would join Michigan as one of 19 civilized states and American Territories where executions are not allowed under state or territory law. Michigan banned capital punishment in 1846 after an innocent man was hanged and made the prohibition part of the state constitution in 1973.

Texas is the champion of all states in executions--370 from 1976-2004, many under President Bush who with Alberto "Smiley" Gonzales ran an execution assembly line when Bush was governor. Most industrialized countries banned capital punishment long ago. Texas is the leader of what is known as the "death belt" composed of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.









New Jersey (Governor Corzine signed the bill abolishing capital punishment in December 2007)

North Dakota

Rhode Island


West Virginia


American Samoa


Northern Mariana Islands

Puerto Rico

U.S. Virgin Islands

In addition, death penalty moritoriums are in effect in several states because of concerns over possible executions of innocent people and over issues involving the method of executions.

Oklahoma Lynching 1911
Oklahoma Lynching 1911

Oxbow Incident Lynch Mob

Oxbow Incident cont'd

which told a story of three innocent men hanged by a vigilante posse in Nevada on trumped up charges of cattle rustling and murder. Henry Fonda tried unsuccessfully to prevent the hanging of Anthony Quinn and two others unjustly accused. The movie was nominated for the best picture Academy Award in 1943 and has since been designated as "culturally significant." If you haven't seen it, do so at your earliest opportunity!!

The Oxbow Incident with Henry Fonda

Colonel Tetley, Leader of Vigilante Posse

Anthony Quinn--Oxbow lynchee


"The death penalty remains lawful in thirty-eight states. Though its application has been suspended in ten of them, including, last month, Florida and California, none hav abolished it in the thirty years since the Supreme Clourt reinstated it. Slightly more than three thousand people are locked in the death rows of the United states--a pungent number, given the tolls of 9/11 and of American forces in Iraq. And the fate of those hwo die strapped to our gurneys and electric chairs is crueller than Saddam Hussein's. He was hanged fifty-five days hafter he was sentenced, and the elapsed time between his transfer to Iraqi custody and his execution was forth minutes. In our country the pattern is to be condemned in youth and executed in middle age. A person is sentenced, in effect, to an indefinite period of imprisonment--an average of between ten and twelve years, but often much longer--in condidtions of constant anxiety and isolation, after which, at a year and date and time unknnown, he is taken from his cell and burned or poisoned to death. California's first judicial killing of 2006 disposed of a man who had been on death row for twenty-three years. Seventy-six years old, legally blind from diabetes, suffering from heart disease, he made the journey to the death chamber in a wheel chair. It's an irony, and not a nice one, that this uniquely American brand of saidsm is a result of the obstacles that our justice system rightly demands be overcome before an execution can take place...."

Hendrik Herzberg in The New Yorker January 15, 2007

Stanley Tookie Williams


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    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, who was not on the bench this morning for the new term for the first time in 35 years, says the only vote he would change from all his years on the high court was the one to uphold the death penalty.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Yes, it is. Are you the victim of a brutal slaying? Maybe we should leave these kinds of decisions up to God. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Elisa Cole 

      9 years ago

      It's a tough subject really. And unless you are a victim of a brutal slaying you may never know really where you stand on this subject. All we can hope is that god helps us all make the right decisions.


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