Push for revival of N.J. death penalty unlikely to gain traction

A push to revive the death penalty in New Jersey is not likely to advance any time soon.

The fatal shooting earlier this month of Jersey City Officer Melvin Santiago prompted Republican lawmakers to renew their call for capital punishment in the case of a police slaying.

But Senate President Steve Sweeney said any legislative action on restoring the death penalty should not be a quick response to a specific killing.

“The death penalty is honestly something that is honestly much bigger than just focusing on this tragedy,” he said. “I mean this tragedy highlights why people feel the death penalty is important, but it’s not going to be a response to this tragedy.”

New Jersey eliminated the death penalty in 2007 because it hadn’t been used for decades, Sweeney said. Convicted killers stayed on death row indefinitely.

He says lawmakers must deliberate much more about whether to bring it back.

A lot of considerations will have to figure in those discussion, said Sweeney, D-Gloucester.

“There’s a lot of people that get killed in this state that shouldn’t get killed. There’s children that get murdered every single day. So we really need to talk. Someone said is it just of police? What about for children?” he said. “That’s a discussion that really needs much more deliberation.”

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