Resolution on the Death Penalty


Whereas, the American Ethical Union (of which the undersigned are members) has repeatedly expressed its concern over the diminished ethical standing of governments which employ the death penalty, and

Whereas, the execution of innocent persons by the state, which was formerly understood to be only a possibility, has in the past two decades been demonstrated to be a near certainty -- with scores of individuals across the nation released from death row after their convictions for capital crimes were shown to have been in error, and

Whereas, the execution of any innocent person can accomplish neither of the state's just goals which are: first, to afford society protection from further danger of criminal activity by the true guilty party, and second, to provide innocent victims with the consolations of punishment of the perpetrator, and

Whereas, the understandable pressure for retribution, from relatives and associates of victims of capital crimes, has too frequently led to improper and illegal actions on the part of law enforcement officials, resulting in providing juries and judges with inaccurate or insufficient evidence which in turn has resulted in erroneous convictions, and

Whereas, execution of any convicted but innocent person is an irreversible act, against which the regular review of the "proportionality" of death sentences by the respected New Jersey Supreme Court is a significant protection, now

Therefore, the undersigned, in pursuit of the goal of establishing the highest ethical and moral standards for the State of New Jersey, do request Governor Whitman and the Legislature

  1. To enact Assembly Bill 1853, an act placing a two year moratorium on the imposition of the death penalty and creating the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission 2000 to study all aspects of the death penalty as currently administered in the State of New Jersey and propose new legislation, if appropriate, and
  2. To reject Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 59 which would submit to the public an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution prohibiting the review of death sentences by the State Supreme Court, and
  3. To consider in open debate the provisions of Assembly Bill 1817, an act to provide a term of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for persons convicted of murder who are presently eligible for capital punishment.


June 1, 2000

Princeton Ethical Humanist Fellowship, Gene Queval, President
Social Action Committee, Ethical Culture Society of Essex County, M. Sue Willis, Chair
Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, Peter Kelly, President

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