Monday, February 24, 2003

The latest in the Empire State...



Despite 1995 reinstatement, prosecutors here rarely seek it

Eight years after New York reinstated the death penalty, not only has no one been executed, but prosecutors have been hesitant to pursue it.

There have been 424 first-degree murder indictments statewide since the statute was reinstated in 1995, yet prosecutors have filed notice to seek the death penalty just 48 times, according to the state Capital Defender’s Office. And of those cases, only 17 went to trial.

...The reasons they cited for the small number of death-penalty trials in the state are substantial and intangible:

The money and time involved in death-penalty cases. (Only one defendant has made it all the way through the court system since the statute was enacted.)

A defense system more well equipped and formidable than in other states.

A falling murder rate.

New Yorkers’ lack of appetite for executions.

....By far, Texas leads the nation in executions with 297 since 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court said states could bring back the death penalty. The court had outlawed the punishment more than a decade earlier. Virginia is second with 87. Arizona has the most of any non-Southern or non-border state with 22. Pennsylvania, with three, is the only Northeastern state to have executed prisoners. Illinois had executed 12 before its death row was cleared.

....prosecutors said the statistics reflect well on them: They are seeking death only in heinous cases.

The whole article is good reading...