One step closer to a death penalty ban in New Jersey

Yesterday, New Jersey's Death Penalty Study Commission took testimony yesterday both for and against executions.  Its report (with suggestions for the legislature) is due in November.  At that point, the state legislature will vote to abolish capital punishment in New Jersey. 

I'd like to see the death penalty abolished here in my state. So yeah, I'm totally biased.  After interviewing Kirk Bloodsworth (who's the first American ever exonerated from death row with DNA evidence) I had no doubt whatsoever that the death penalty was both morally disgusting and ridiculous public policy.  Let's hope enough of our legislators feel the same way to ban the death penalty in New Jersey.

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Administration affect on cultural psychology

A New York Times story today ( al/12homicide.html) highlighted the staggering rise in murder in middle-sized American cities.  While murders in the 1990s were generally characterized by gang related drug crimes, people today according to the story, are killing for "petty" reasons.  The story cites "mean looks" or "disrespect" as reasons given for murder.  Even unauthorized use of a person's bar of soap can get you killed in Milwaukee, according to the Times story.

Crime experts debate the reasons why.  Lax gun laws and weak sentences are easy targets, but no one seems to be addressing the root causes.

My theory: people aren't committing petty murders because guns are accessible and because they think they can get away with it (that's nothing new); this trend must point to some broader cultural issue.

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