Paterson ends Death Row in NY!

New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty
Colleen Eren, Organizing Director

Good News!

Governor Paterson took action today to further make the death penalty a thing of the past in New York—as reported in the NY Post, he has “Pulled the Switch on the Death Cell,” the execution chamber at the GreenHaven Correctional facility. This is great news, and one that brings us even closer to our ideal of a state without capital punishment. Please write, call, or e-mail Paterson to thank him!

David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224


Of course, writing a letter to the editor of the Post supporting the decision, even if only a few sentences, helps us get out our message all the more strongly. You can fill out a letter at the Post’s opinion site:

Thank you for all you do!
Colleen and the NYADP Team

By BRENDAN SCOTT, Post Correspondent

July 24, 2008

ALBANY – The Paterson administration has put to death one of capital punishment’s last vestiges – the execution chamber known as the “death house.” The Department of Correctional Services has quietly struck from the books a 40-year-old rule that designated the upstate Green Haven Correctional Facility
the state’s “Capital Punishment Unit.”

The procedural move by Gov. Paterson, a Democrat who opposes capital punishment, completes the long, slow demise of the 1995 statute that reinstated the death penalty after a 23-year hiatus. Although seven defendants were sentenced to death after then-Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, signed the law, the death house has never hosted an execution.

The two-cell unit sits vacant in an isolated wing of the Dutchess County prison. Equipment for lethal injection has been removed. The defunct death house is visited once a week for cleaning. The Court of Appeals ruled the Pataki statute unconstitutional last year. Correction spokesman Erik Kriss said the death-house regulation was deemed unnecessary as part of an annual review of agency protocols. “What the court said is, ‘If you want executions in this state, the Legislature is going to have to enact a new statute or fix the statute,’ ” Kriss said. “If it does, we will adopt any new reg, rule or directive as needed.”

“It should be a decision by the Legislature. This governor wasn’t elected. He’s got to let the legislators legislate.” Death-penalty supporters blasted the unilateral move by Paterson, likening it to his recent directive ordering New York to recognize gay marriages performed out of state. “It’s another decision by fiat,” said Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who has sponsored a bill to make cop killers eligible for lethal injection. The cop-killer legislation is among several attempts by the Republican-run Senate to restore the death penalty, but the bills have failed to move in the Democrat-controlled Assembly. Approval has seemed less likely since Paterson succeeded disgraced Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who was pro-death penalty, in March.

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