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    1. #1
      Heidi's Avatar
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      Oct 2010

      New Jersey Capital Punishment News

      Shooting death of Lakewood, NJ cop spurs political talk of reviving death penalty

      New Jersey did away with its death penalty in 2007, but Lakewood's representative in the state Senate said the cold-blooded killing of a township police officer is a striking example of why the punishment should be restored.

      However, Republican Sen. Robert Singer said he and other GOP lawmakers feel capital punishment "has no chance" of coming back with Democrats holding the majority in both houses of the Legislature.

      "There's types of crime that rise to that level of punishment, whether it's the killing of a Lakewood police officer, a mass shooting in Arizona, certain crimes against children, when just spending the rest of a life in jail is not right when the person deserves the death penalty," Singer said.

      There hasn't been any movement on three capital punishment bills sponsored by Republicans in the current legislative session.

      A Democratic senator, Raymond Lesniak of Union County, faulted Singer for "politicizing such a tragedy."

      "The death penalty won't bring back the slain officer, nor would it have prevented this and other tragedies," Lesniak said. "In fact it has been shown that the death penalty only contributes to more violence. States like Texas and Florida which have frequent executions have the highest murder rates."

      Police arrested Jahmell W. Crockam, 19, of Lakewood, in the Friday shooting death of township Police Officer Christopher Matlosz. Following a 38-hour manhunt, Crockam was apprehended in Camden early Sunday morning.

      Former Gov. Jon Corzine signed a death penalty abolition law in January 2007 but the vast majority of death sentences under the former law were overturned on appeals. No one has been executed in New Jersey since 1963.

      A state panel that had studied the issue leading up to the change said the punishment did not meet evolving standards of decency, the legal system couldn't ensure an innocent person would not be executed and the state could potentially save money if the sentence was replaced with life without parole.

      Celeste Fitzgerald, head of a group that lobbied for the change, said the reasons why lawmakers rolled back the law remain valid.

      Matlosz's killer, if convicted, "will receive a sentence of life without any possibility of parole and that is the appropriate sentence for this kind of crime," said Fitzgerald, director of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

      Singer said the death penalty issue is a personal one for him.

      Singer said his family "has been a victim of violent crime twice," including when his daughter, Sarri, suffered a broken shoulder and a perforated eardrum in a June 11, 2003, bus bombing in Israel. Sixteen people died in the attack.

      Singer from the Senate floor argued against eliminating capital punishment when the Legislature took it up in 2006.

      Singer said Lakewood residents are still reeling from the news of the cop-killing. He said he spoke to a group at a Martin Luther King Day event in Lakewood on Monday.

      "I mentioned to everyone that it's a terrible loss for policemen who protect us and it's terrible that a Lakewood resident allegedly did it, a double-crime for our town. This is a 19-year-old kid who's been charged. It's frightening. We have to do more to make sure the young people get the message that violence is wrong."


    2. #2
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      Oct 2010
      Lawmaker drafts bill to OK death penalty for cop killers

      State Sen. Robert W. Singer is drafting legislation that would allow the death penalty to be imposed for the murder of an on-duty law enforcement officer.

      The announcement comes less than a week after Lakewood Police Officer Christopher Matlosz was shot three times at close range after he stopped to question a Lakewood resident. Authorities have charged Jahmell W. Crockam, with the murder of Matlosz, 27.

      "Life in prison isn't good enough" punishment for such a crime, said Singer, R-Ocean, a former Lakewood Township committeeman.

      Singer's proposed legislation would also allow the death penalty for the murder of a child and for the commission of a terrorist attack that results in fatalities, he said.

      State Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, said Wednesday that she, too, favors bringing back the death penalty for certain "heinous offenses" such as the killing of a police officer.

      Both Singer and Beck opposed the repeal of the death penalty, which was abolished in New Jersey in 2007.

      In the wake of Matlosz's murder, several other area officials have also called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in certain cases.

      The Freehold Township Committee unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night urging state lawmakers representing Monmouth and Ocean counties to draft a bill that would give juries the option of the death penalty for someone convicted of murdering an on-duty law enforcement officer.

      "When it's OK to kill a cop, I think we as a society have a huge problem," said Mayor David M. Salkin.

      Salkin said he had met Matlosz when the young man worked for the township as a special police officer.

      "He was just a nice guy. It's a real shame," Salkin said.


    3. #3
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      Oct 2010
      Ocean Gate (NJ) council votes to back death penalty for cop killers

      In the wake of losing one of their own police officers in a tragic car accident in November, the Borough Council unanimously voted Wednesday night on a resolution to support the death penalty for killers of law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

      The issue hit close to home with the January murder of Lakewood Police Officer Christopher Matlosz, and the resolution supports re-establishing the death penalty for the "cold-blooded, calculated murder" of police officers.

      "I believe it's important that some progress be made by the Legislature as a deterrent to commit such a heinous act," Police Chief Reece Fisher said Thursday. "It's time to change the trend in New Jersey so that it protects and favors police officers trying to do their job. We need to protect our first line of defense in the state."

      Borough Mayor Paul J. Kennedy said the town has been hit with several local tragedies in the past few months, including the death of borough Officer Jason Marles, who was killed in an accident on Thanksgiving, and a triple-fatal car accident in nearby Pine Beach. The other driver in the Marles' crash has been charged with vehicular homicide and drunken driving.

      "We've been trying to put (a resolution) together all along and try to get back to normal ever since what happened with Jay (Marles)," said Kennedy. "We all feel very strongly that we've all got to step up and get back the law. Cops are here to protect and serve the communities without knowing what's going to happen to them day to day."

      Kennedy said such a law might not act as a deterrent to hard-core criminals in the gangs, who he said "are driven to a different way of thinking. But the ones that are on the fence about it, they might think twice about it."

      In January, Freehold Township adopted a similar resolution. Both resolutions call for legislation similar to what is being drafted by State Sen. Robert W. Singer, R-Ocean, in response to the murder of Matlosz.


    4. #4
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      Oct 2010
      Jackson council supports bill proposing death penalty

      JACKSON — Members of the Jackson Township Council have passed a resolution supporting a bill filed in the state Legislature that proposes the use of the death penalty for killers of law enforcement officers.

      Sen. Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Burlington), whose district includes Jackson, has introduced a bill that could result in the death penalty for murderers of on-duty police officers, as well as for the killers of children, and terrorists whose actions cause deaths.

      The council sent its resolution to state officials, to Jackson Police Chief Matthew Kunz and to Jackson PBA Local 168.

      The resolution states that in 1976 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the death penalty and turned the decision over to the individual states.

      In 1982 New Jersey re-established the death penalty and approximately 50 people were sentenced to death for premeditated murder. Most of the cases were overturned. No one was executed.

      In 2004 the New Jersey appeals court ruled that the procedures for administering the death penalty were unconstitutional, and on Dec. 17, 2007, Gov. Jon Corzine signed a bill repealing the New Jersey death penalty.

      Following the recent murder of Lakewood Police Officer Christopher Matlosz, Singer introduced his bill proposing the establishment of the death penalty for cop killers.

      Councilman Ken Bressi supported the resolution but said he believes the death penalty should apply to anyone who has been found guilty of killing somebody in cold blood.

      Council President Scott Martin said Singer’s bill is a step in the right direction.

      During the public portion of the meeting, resident Gene Davis commended the council for passing the resolution.

      “I think it is important that you endorse the death penalty for killers of law enforcement [officers],” Davis said.

      Resident Gary Black commended the council for passing the resolution and said he supports the death penalty, but he would like to go further.

      “The way guns are prevailing and the way crime has been running away, it’s time to think about the death penalty for all the killers who take lives,” he said. “[We should be] doing this to save lives. I mean a real death penalty and not the New Jersey death penalty, which seems to be old-aged.

      “We have got to stop these gangs, and while we can do all sorts of drug prevention, we have to say no more to violent criminals. It is time to put these people away — demons, as I call them. They are out there destroying life like wild animals. Enough is enough,” he said.


    5. #5
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      Oct 2010
      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."

      (source: Newsworks.org)
      A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    6. #6
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      Oct 2010
      Fiocchi to Sponsor Death Penalty as Deterrent for Cop-Killers

      TRENTON - Assembly Republican Sam Fiocchi is calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty for anyone convicted of killing a law enforcement official in the line of duty. Fiocchi will sign on as a sponsor of A-2429, which reverses the ban on capital punishment that was enacted in 2007. Tuesday, an Illinois police officer was killed which follows the cold-blooded murder of a Texas police office last Friday.

      "These heinous and callous acts are intolerable and show a total lack of regard for those who protect the public,” said Fiocchi, R-Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic. “Communities are in shock and families are emotionally scarred at the indefensible actions of individuals with such little respect for life. These senseless acts must stop and reinstating capital punishment for those found guilty will suffer the appropriate consequences under this bill.”

      Twenty-four officers have been murdered in the line of duty this year throughout the country. The bill which has been stalled in the Legislature since 2011 reinstates the death penalty in New Jersey for the murder of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.


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