Brooklyn- State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), a former New York City Police Officer, today has sent a letter to State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver urging him to call the Assembly back to session before year’s end to approve legislation which would make the New York State death penalty law in compliance with concerns raised by the State Court of Appeals.
Golden, in his letter, highlighted the fact that the State Senate passed this legislation in March, (S.2727) and that since, the Assembly Codes Committee has taken no action on this necessary and important piece of public safety legislation.
Senator Golden wrote, "The recent cold blooded murder of New York City Police Officer Dillon Stewart is a reminder that New York State lacks a capital punishment law that would be applicable to individuals such as cop-killer Allan Cameron. For such a heinous act, Allan Cameron should face nothing less than the death penalty."
Golden continued, "The death penalty is a strong deterrent to crime and since the death penalty was enacted in 1995, the number of murders in New York State and the number of violent crimes have decreased by over 40 percent. This legislation needs to be acted upon the Assembly so that Governor George Pataki can enact it into law, thus ensuring that a capital punishment law is in place and can be used to protect New Yorkers and prevent dangerous, violent criminals from getting back on the streets."
The Court of Appeals overturned death penalty sentences, saying that judges were improperly required to instruct jurors in capital cases that if they deadlocked and failed to reach a verdict during the penalty phase of the trial, the judge would impose a sentence that would leave the defendant eligible for parole after 20 to 25 years.
The bill, which was submitted by Governor Pataki, would require that in addition to capital punishment or life in prison without parole, juries would be given a third option of imposing a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole when sentencing convicted murderers.
Also, the bill requires that if a jury is deadlocked, a sentence of life without parole would be imposed, and juries would be told of that provision before sentencing. All pending capital cases, as well as crimes committed prior to the effective date of any change of any law, would be affected by the changes included in the bill.