Fagan Commentary on NJ Death Penalty Ban

Press contact:
James O’Neill
212-854-1584 Cell: 646-596-2935
December 12, 2007 (NEW YORK) – Columbia Law School Professor Jeffrey Fagan, an expert on capital punishment, can speak to news media covering the New Jersey legislature’s move to abolish the death penalty. The New Jersey Senate voted 21-16 on Monday to ban the death penalty, and the General Assembly is scheduled to vote on the measure this Thursday. Gov. Jon Corzine has said he would sign the bill.
New Jersey would be the first state to ban capital punishment since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality in 1976.
Fagan co-authored two studies in 2000 and 2002 which examined the effectiveness and efficiency of capital punishment across the country. The second study is called A Broken System, Part II:Why There Is So Much Error in Capital Cases, and What Can Be Done About It. To access both studies, click here.
Jeffrey Fagan can be reached at 212-854-2624 and at [email protected]. He is Professor of Law and Public Health and Co-Director of the Center for Crime, Community and Law, has conducted research on law and social policy since 1976 and speaks regularly to the media about prisoner rights and criminal law.
``This is a flawed system,’’ Fagan told the New Jersey State Legislature’s Death Penalty Study Commission during testimony last year. He said his study found that 68 percent of all death verdicts they studied nationwide were reversed. Half were reversed because ``the finding that the defendant was guilty of capital murder was so seriously flawed (because of) absence of evidence, absence of proof … and so unreliable that the verdict simply could not be enforced.’’
The research by Fagan and Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman found that in 85 percent of states, the reversal rate was over 50 percent. In New Jersey, the reversal rate was 87 percent.
To read Fagan’s entire testimony, click here.
Reporters can also schedule live and taped TV interviews in the Law School’s fiber optic transmission studio. Contact Jim O’Neill at 212-854-1584 (w), 646-596-2935 (cell) or [email protected].
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School graduates have provided leadership worldwide in a remarkably broad range of fields – government, diplomacy, the judiciary, business, non-profit, advocacy, entertainment, academia, science and the arts.