Fossella, Lanza, Tobacco, Oddo and Ignizio Urge Special Session of the Assembly to Pass Capital Punishment Bill
Five Staten Island lawmakers today called on the New York State Assembly to convene a special session to consider legislation restoring the death penalty in New York State.
The call for action comes from Congressman Vito Fossella, State Senator Andrew Lazna, Assemblyman Louis Tobacco and City Council Members James Oddo and Vincent Ignizio just days after the cold-blooded shooting of two NYPD officers, including Staten Islander Russel Timoshenko, during a routine traffic stop in Brooklyn.
In a letter today to State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the lawmakers said the shooting represents a dangerous trend in New York State -- since December 2006, more than a dozen New York City police officers have been assaulted while doing their jobs, and between 2002 and 2006, 13 officers in New York State have been killed in the line of duty.
"We believe this new sense of boldness on the part of criminals can be traced, in part, to the lack of a death penalty statute in New York," the lawmakers said. "Would-be cop killers have no regard for human life or respect for the men and women who courageously protect our city. But they fully understand the consequences of murdering a police officer, and we believe they would be less likely to pull the trigger when the punishment is death. We need to send a strong message to criminals that targeting a police officer for death carries the ultimate punishment - and to our men and women in blue that we will take every step necessary to protect them."
Under former Governor Pataki, the Legislature restored capital punishment in 1995, but the State Court of Appeals ruled the law was unconstitutional because it violated the due process rights of the accused. The court provided guidance on how to correct the law, but the Assembly has not acted on legislation to restore capital punishment. The State Senate has already passed a capital punishment bill this session and Governor Spitzer has indicated his willingness to sign such a measure into law.