ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

April 30, 2007

2007.04.30: Serious Threat of Return of NY Death Penalty

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Racism,Sentencing — nyclaw01 @ 10:02 am

From: Rebecca L Kurti
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 10:02 AM
To: 1199 Members
Subject: Serious Threat of Return of NY Death Penalty

IN the past few days, in the aftermath of a state trooper’s death, both State Senate and Assembly members have INTRODUCED BILLS to reinstate NY’s death penalty. PLEASE take action — read below from NYers Against the Death Penalty. Help stop NY politicians bringing back this racist institution.



Just as the Senate is poised to vote on the death penalty in New York,

the worst case scenario has unfolded for those of us who are committed

to ending capital punishment.

Please call your elected State representatives today, and maximize our

impact by  getting just ONE or TWO others to do the same!!!


In the aftermath of the murder of another state trooper,  David

C. Brinkerhoff, Albany pols are calling for a return of the death

penalty, even though the death penalty has never been shown to deter

homicide, and EVEN THOUGH they have done NOTHING to address the issue of

wrongful convictions!!!

Once again, it appears some members of the State Senate as well as in

the State Assembly are misusing a tragic event for their own political


These “public servants” are acting in willful ignorance of what New

Yorkers have learned at comprehensive hearings in the State Assembly

two years ago. They have IGNORED the risk of executing an innocent person,

have IGNORED the growing list of people on death rows released with

evidence of innocence, nationwide, and the shameful list of New Yorkers wrongfully

convicted (embarrassingly, among the highest in the nation.) These

politicians are  the majority of New Yorkers who now prefer life without

parole over the death penalty as the most serious punishment (by a margin

of over 20%.)

Here’s how to help remind them of their responsibility to US:

If you can do ONE thing, contact your state Assembly member. Even if

you have in the past, do so again: they may change their votes!

If you can do TWO things, contact your State Senator

If you can do THREE things, contact Governor Spitzer at the number


To identify and find out how to reach your State legislators, please

visit http://www.capwiz. com/lwvny/ state/main/ ?state=NY scroll down

to My Elected Officials and click on View.

A phone call is BEST, a letter is fine. (Email is the least effective

approach) It is important to identify yourself as a constituent.

If your legislators are already with us,

thank and encourage them.

Please let me know what actions you’re taking so we may know the

magnitude of our impact. Thank you for all you do!!!!

In solidarity and strength!


ATALANTA26pt2@YAHOO.COM/ 516 849 2363

For Governor Spitzer,

State Capitol

Albany, NY 12224

Phone: (518) 474-8390

Fax: (518) 474-1513

Last of all, please pass this request along to friends, colleagues,

families and listserves that pay attention to human rights issues.


Death penalty support grows

Legislators embrace measures calling for execution of cop killers

By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau

Albany Times Union: Friday, April 27, 2007

http://timesunion. com/AspStories/ story.asp? storyID=584483& category= CAPIT

OL&BCCode=HOME& newsdate= 4/27/2007

ALBANY — A veteran Assembly Democrat has introduced a bill to restore

the death penalty for cop killers, putting the controversial issue

squarely back on the table in New York. Rome Assemblywoman RoAnn

Destito’s move means the death penalty now has a majority sponsor in

both chambers. Her legislation matches that of Sen. Marty Golden,

R-Brooklyn, and allows for capital punishment for those who murder law

enforcement and correction officers.

Destito, a Democrat, said she planned the bill, which she proposed

Wednesday, even before three troopers were shot, one fatally, this week.

Two police officers in Oneida County were killed in the line of duty

during the past year, she noted.

“After going to two memorials and funerals … in my community, I can

tell you there is strong support for this kind of legislation, ” said

Destito. “People that never really get excited about legislation were

coming up to me and saying we need to do something for our men and women

in law enforcement. ”

Already, nine other Democrats are behind the bill and at least five

others, who supported an Assembly Republican pitch for the death penalty

earlier this week, are likely to join.

David Kaczynski, executive director of New Yorkers Against the Death

Penalty, said lawmakers must fight the urge to pass legislation as a

show of outrage. “In the case with police officers, you’ve got an

understandably inflamed public reaction and that is exactly the kind of

case that leads to a wrongful conviction,” he said.

Kaczynski, of Schenectady, said the legislation to execute cop

killers will amount to “an empty political gesture.” There hasn’t been

an execution in New York in 43 years, yet the state spent $200 million

on the death penalty system from 1995 to 2004.

And, he said, it risks executing the innocent. “It’s a simplistic

solution. Life without parole is a much, much better option,” said

Kaczynski. He noted the state exonerated eight men convicted of murder

in New York in the last two years, seven through DNA and another because

of a solid alibi.

Capital Region lawmakers are split on the death penalty. Republicans

support it. Most Democrats opposite it, except Assembly Majority Leader

Ronald Canestrari of Cohoes, who said he would vote for Destito’s bill.

He said he voted for the penalty in the past and would again after the

“recent horrendous events.”

Assemblyman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said people are reacting in the

heat of the moment.

“I certainly understand the emotion and I understand the revenge,” Tonko

said. But he called for policies that attack the causes of violence and

laws that crack down on the spread of illegal guns.

Phil Oliva, a spokesman for Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco,

said Tedisco talked with Gov. Eliot Spitzer Wednesday night, and the

governor reiterated his support of a death penalty bill.

Spitzer has said he will refrain from entering the debate until next

week, out of respect for the families of the troopers fired upon in

Delaware County this week.

Assemblyman Tim Gordon, I-Bethlehem, is willing to co-sponsor

Destito’s bill. “I don’t support the death penalty, but it’s a special

circumstance when people are shooting at police officers,” said Gordon,

adding that his position has been influenced by the murder of Albany

Police Lt. John Finn, who was shot and killed in 2003 by a parolee in


“He knew he was shooting at a cop,” Gordon said. “When they’re

knowingly shooting at police officers, it’s just too much.”


Death penalty bill urged

Senate renews call for law after cop shootings, asks Spitzer to get Assembly

on board


Albany Times Union By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau

April 26, 2007

ALBANY — Citing the shootings of three state troopers within 24 hours in

Delaware County, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno urged Gov. Eliot

Spitzer on Wednesday to focus on a new state death penalty law instead of

pushing for campaign finance reform. Spitzer spokesman Darren Dopp said he

expects the governor will sit down with legislative leaders next week to

discuss a death penalty law. Spitzer, a Democrat, has favored a death

penalty since his two terms as attorney general, particularly for cop


The governor cut short his schedule Tuesday to return to Albany to

visit the family of the latest wounded trooper. His first stop on Wednesday,

in Nassau County to slam Senate Republicans for rejecting his plans to

reform election financing, occurred a few minutes after two troopers were

shot in Delaware County. He canceled a speech to NARAL in New York City and

a fundraiser today in Florida. “I know here at the Capitol there is an

ongoing debate over legislative initiatives and politics,” Spitzer said.

“Now is not the moment for that debate. There will be much time for that


By late morning, Bruno was criticizing Spitzer’s priorities, saying

the governor should focus on protecting New Yorkers in general and cops in

particular. “What is more important than protecting the lives of law

enforcement officers?” Bruno said. “Is campaign finance reform more

important than that? I don’t think so.” Bruno hastily called a news

conference with his members and the New York State Sheriff’s Association to

urge Spitzer to “use his considerable influence” to get Assembly Democrats

to create a death penalty law for criminals who murder cops. The Senate

plans Monday to pass a bill calling for a death sentence for cop killers and

terrorists. Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome, plans to introduce a

similar measure.

While Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan,

declined to comment on the death penalty, he issued a statement offering

condolences to the slain trooper’s family and cast the debate as a gun

control issue. He touted a series of gun laws that passed his chamber. They

target incompetent or sloppy gun dealers, improve use of ballistics in

solving crimes and ban .50 caliber bullets and armor-piercing ammunition.

Privately, he told Assembly Democrats they will not take immediate action on

a death penalty proposal, on which his members appears split.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who led five hearings on the death penalty in 2005, said he

once favored the death penalty law achieved by Gov. George Pataki in 1995,

but now sees strong opposition to it since New York courts struck it down as

unconstitutional because of technical flaws. Lentol said life without parole

for cop killers is enough. “That’s a sufficient deterrent, and without

the risk of executing someone who’s innocent,” Lentol said.

Bruno, noting that 10 law enforcement officers have been killed in the past 30 months, said,

“Life imprisonment doesn’t work.” Assembly Republicans on Tuesday

tried to amend a crime victims bill to add the death penalty. The amendment failed

96-47, with seven Assembly Democrats joining the minority. Assembly Majority

Leader Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes, accused the Senate of grandstanding.

Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, said the three shootings in his district require

action by lawmakers to send a message to “evil cowards” who gun down

officers. “If you attack a police officer, it’s bigger than that police

officer. It’s us, it’s all of us,” Bonacic said. A broader bill allowing

the death penalty for all killers may be introduced later, Bruno said. It would

fix sentencing provisions that the Court of Appeals in 2004 ruled

unconstitutional because they could coerce jurors into voting for the death

penalty out of fear killers might otherwise go free.

James M. Odato can be reached at 454-5083 or by e-mail at


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