Criminal Justice: New York Abolishes Death

In its 74 years at Sing Sing Prison, New York State's 2,000-volt electric chair has efficiently ended 614 lives. Last month opponents of capital punishment persuaded the state legislature to pass a bill abolishing execution for all but two classes of murderers—cop killers and life prisoners who kill guards or inmates while in jail or while trying to escape. Governor Nelson Rockefeller sharply criticized those exceptions as morally indefensible. "If the proponents admit that the death penalty is a deterrent in some cases," he asked, "then why not in others?"

Last week Rockefeller, who had been expected to veto the...

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