“Todos los cristianos y hombres de buena voluntad están llamadas hoy a trabajar no sólo por la abolición de la pena de muerte, sino también para mejorar las condiciones de las cárceles, en el respeto de la dignidad humana de las personas privadas de libertad.” - Papa Francisco
At least 361 people have been executed in New Jersey, dating back to colonial times, the first being the execution of an enslaved person on the charge of rape. Except for 12 executions of enslaved people by burning in the early 18th century, executions in New Jersey were by hanging until 1909, and electrocution thereafter. The first electric chair was designed in New Jersey by Harold Brown and Arthur Hennelley in 1888.
After the 1972 US Supreme Court decision in Furman v Georgia, which declared several states’ death penalty statutes unconstitutional, New Jersey did not pass revised legislation until 1982. A state appeals court ruled in 2004 that New Jersey’s procedures for administering the death penalty were unconstitutional. The state rewrote the procedures but never finalized them, and they expired in 2005. In 2005, New Jersey lawmakers voted to suspend executions while a study commission examined the fairness and expense of the state’s death penalty, making New Jersey the first state to impose a moratorium on executions through legislation.
In 2007, a bill to replace the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole passed the state Senate and General Assembly and was signed by Gov. Jon Corzione. In so doing, New Jersey was the first state to legislatively abolish the death penalty since 1965 and the 14th to do so overall. From 1982 until abolition in 2007, no person on death row was executed.
For more information and ways to get involved, contact your state's organizations:
The New Jersey Catholic Conference (NJCC) represents the Catholic bishops of New Jersey on matters of public policy. NJCC serves as a liaison to governmental agencies and institutions and coordinates public policy communications and activities among the dioceses and between the bishops and secular agencies.
Following our successful campaign to abolish the death penalty in New Jersey, New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NJADP) seeks to achieve public and political support for the elimination of capital punishment in the United States and promotes public policies and programs designed to ensure justice and healing in the criminal justice system