Senator Dale M. Volker Announces Senate Passage Of Death Penalty Bills

William T. Stachowski

June 13, 2006

(Albany, NY) Senator Dale M. Volker (R-I-C, Depew) today passed legislation that will reinstate the death penalty for criminals who kill police officers, as well as amend the state’s death penalty law to fix a provision that was ruled invalid by the state Court of Appeals.

Senate action on the legislation was announced today at a Capitol news conference where Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno and members of the Majority Conference were joined by David and Kathy Corr, whose son Joseph Corr, a New Hartford Police Officer, was shot and killed in February while chasing a jewelry store robber.

The Senate-passed a comprehensive bill (S.6771) would put stronger penalties in place for criminals that target police officers. The bill includes stronger penalties for assault, menacing, murder and attempted murder of an officer, as well as increased penalties for possession of armor-piercing ammunition and the reinstatement of the death penalty for criminals who kill police officers. The Senate also passed legislation today that would amend the state’s death penalty law to fix a provision that was ruled invalid by the state Court of Appeals.

"Throughout the nation, New York’s capital murder statute has been known as a model that many states are utilizing as it incorporates unprecedented protections for capital defendants. It has always been a well-balanced law and it is a major reason why New York is one of the safest states in the entire country," said Senator Volker. "Yet, the New York State Court of Appeals decided that portions of our capital punishment statute needs even more protections for the defendant. That is why the State Senate will address the Court of Appeals concerns and pass legislation that will reactivate the Death Penalty. The majority of New Yorkers have consistently supported the Death Penalty and today's announcement will ensure that the ultimate sentence for the most vile will be available for prosecutors to utilize."

In 2004, 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 a trial, the judge would impose a sentence that would leave the defendant eligible for parole after 20 to 25 years.

This bill (S.2727) 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 with 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 in the law, would be affected by the changes included in this bill.