Be clear about the debate to 'restore' the death penalty

originally by: The Daily Journal
published: 31st March 2011

State Sen. Robert Singer says he wants to reinstate the death penalty in New Jersey for cop- and child-killers, partly in response to the slaying of a Lakewood police officer earlier this year. He has introduced a bill to that effect in the Legislature. That’s not really the plan, however. Lawmakers, including Singer himself, widely agree that there’s virtually no chance such an emotional and divisive proposal will be addressed in an election year.

Nor should it; the state has many more important issues to consider — and for candidates to debate — than bringing back the death penalty. Senate President Steve Sweeney reportedly has vowed not to post Singer’s bill for a vote.

Singer, however, also says that if Republicans win control of the Legislature come November, he will move swiftly to put forth a bill reinstating the death penalty for all capital cases, with a streamlined appeals process that would speed the path to execution.

In other words, forget the current bill. It’s irrelevant. The underlying message to voters is that if you like the death penalty, vote Republican, and you’ll get the whole thing back. But restoring any version of the death penalty would be a big mistake.

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