Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A new day in New York City

This morning, a hearing was held in New York City on a proposed bill to reinstate the death penalty in New York. (Earlier this year, a state court struck down New York's existing death penalty statute.)

Here's what a columnist for Newsday has to say about the state of things:

At 10 o'clock this morning on West 44th Street, in a meeting hall at the Bar Association of the City of New York, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will hold a rare public hearing on whether the state should be in the death business again.

A big crowd is expected today. But just before the hearing begins, people from 300 religious groups, unions, activist organizations and others will announce a giant coalition to keep the death penalty off the books in New York. Standing at the front of this group is Andrew Cuomo, Mario's son.

The issue is the same it has always been. But suddenly, the ground is not.

"I remember when my father first ran," said the younger Cuomo, who was federal housing secretary and made a brief run for governor two years ago.
"The only thing people knew the governor of New York did was he passed the death penalty. The only thing they knew about my father is that he was against the death penalty, and they were for it."

But something has obviously changed in the past 10 years on the politics of death.

"Crime is down," Cuomo said. "The discussion is more sober. People are in a different place. I'm not sure it was the death penalty that people really wanted before. It was their way to say, 'I'm afraid of crime. I'm afraid for my family and not enough is being done.' It is their way of saying, 'I am so scared and angry, I'll go to the extreme.

To read the entire column, go here.

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