On January 27th, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has newfound doubts about reinstating the death penalty.

New York’s last execution occurred in 1963, and the US Supreme Court declared the state’s death penalty unconstitutional in 1972. Governor Pataki, however, signed a new capital punishment law in 1995 and, according to New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty (NYDAP), the state has since spent $170 million unsuccessfully pursuing capital cases between 1995 and 2004. NYDAP is urging anti-death penalty activists to applaud Silver, who told reporters that New York has been “spending tens of millions of dollars [on death penalty cases that] may be better spent on educating children.”

Even though the State Appeals court overturned the death penalty on June 24, 2004, legislators could pass a new statute at any time. Nation readers should e-mail Speaker Silver or call his office at (518) 455-5459 to voice their agreement with his new position.Please let him know that New York does not want or need a death penalty, and that we expect him, as Assembly Speaker, to represent the majority opinion of his constituents.