The US state of New Jersey has joined the global trend towards ending capital punishment. The state's governor, Jon Corzine, signed a bill to abolish the death penalty on Monday.
The state's assembly voted to replace execution with life imprisonment without parole on 14 December. Forty-four voted in favour of the bill, 36 against.
Amnesty International hopes and believes that the passing of this bill marks a turning point in the use of the death penalty in the US. New Jersey is the first US state to abolish capital punishment under law in the modern death penalty era, commencing in 1972.
No one has been executed in New Jersey since 1963. In the rest of the US, fewer people were executed last year than at any time in the past 10 years and the figure for 2007 will be even lower.
Since September, when the US Supreme Court announced that it would consider a legal challenge to the use of lethal injections, there has been – in practice – a moratorium (suspension) on executions.
A special state commission set up in New Jersey reported earlier this year that capital punishment had not deterred murder and ran the risk of killing an innocent person. It also reported that the death penalty was more expensive than life imprisonment.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. The death penalty is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice. It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. AI believes it should never be used and is always a human rights violation.