May 10, 2007
No death penalty Say over 50 survivors of murder victims in N.J.
By JAIME MARINE, Bridgeton News
More than 50 New Jersey survivors of murder victims have submitted a letter
to the state Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to pass a bill that
would replace the death penalty with life without parole.
Among the senders is Eileen Bennett, of Mauricetown, whose stepdaughter,
Wendy Bennett McCarter, 35, was shot and killed the morning of May 25, 2006
by her husband, Scott McCarter, who also killed their two children, Scotty,
12, and Melanie, 6, before shooting himself at their home on Nabb Avenue,
The letter was submitted to the state Senate Judiciary Committee as it
considers S-171, legislation that would replace the death penalty with life
"These 50 New Jersey citizens are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons,
husbands and wives, all of whom had their lives ripped apart by the horrible
experience of losing a family member to murder," Celeste Fitzgerald, program
director of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said
Wednesday. "Some of them supported the death penalty when their loved one
was killed; others opposed it.
"In signing this letter, they have all banded together to say that the death
penalty has failed them as victims of violent crime."
Bennett could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but the letter she
signed along with other state residents laid out the reasons for this
"Though we share different perspectives on the death penalty, every one of
us agrees that New Jersey's capital punishment system doesn't work, and that
our state is better off without it," the letter states. "To be meaningful,
justice should be swift and sure."
Life without parole, which begins immediately, is both swift and sure,
according to the letter, which adds the death penalty is neither.
"Capital punishment drags victims' loved ones through an agonizing and
lengthy process, holding out the promise of one punishment in the beginning
and often resulting in a life sentence in the end anyway," it states. "A
life without parole sentence for killers right from the start would keep
society safe, hold killers responsible for their brutal and depraved acts,
and would start as soon as we left the courtroom."
NJADP said taxpayers have spent over $250 million since capital punishment
was reinstated in New Jersey in 1983. The organization contends these funds
could be spent in better ways if death-eligible individuals were sentenced
to live without parole.
"We are writing to say that there are better ways to help us," the letter
said. "The death penalty is a broken and costly system. New Jersey doesn't
need it and victims' families like ours don't want it."
For more information on this bill and letter, visit www.njadp.org.
Source : Bridgeton News