Contact: Phil Oliva, (518) 455-3756
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Assembly Minority Pushes Death Penalty for Cop Killers
Budget has millions for capital defenders… but no Capital Punishment law

It is easier to increase spending on an obsolete program than it is to get tough on crime, according to Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga.)

Tedisco said that the budget agreement contains $1.7 million in new funds for the Capital Defenders Office, an office dedicated to defending inmates on death row, even though the state no longer has a capital punishment law.

"I've seen some strange ones in my time but this one is right up there," said Tedisco.

Assembly Minority members say they have no problem with the office or the appropriation, but only if there is a real capital punishment law that merits its existence. Today they proposed an amendment that would allow the death penalty for those convicted of murdering police officers or correctional officials.

Earlier this month, the state Senate Codes Committee approved legislation to reinstate New York's death penalty for murderers who kill police officers or employees of the state Department of Correctional Services. A vote by the full Senate is imminent.

If the full Assembly is allowed to vote, according to Tedisco, it is virtually certain New York's death penalty will be reinstated. An Assembly Minority effort to reinstate the death penalty was defeated by the Assembly Codes Committee last year.

"We owe it to those who protect us to have a fair up or down vote on this measure. We owe it to those who patrol our neighborhoods and protect our communities to have a law that reserves the option to exercise the ultimate punishment for an individual who would callously take the life of a police officer," said Tedisco.

Late last year, two New York City police officers were murdered in the line of duty, and this year two police officers were shot dead by robbery suspects in two separate incidents in Chemung and Oneida counties.

In December, the governor and state legislators passed two bills that toughened gun-control laws and increased penalties for violence against police officers - after two cops were killed downstate. However, a proposal to include the death penalty as a possible sentence for cop killers was dropped when Democrat leaders wouldn't budge.

In 1995, the Legislature and Governor Pataki reinstated the death penalty in New York State. Under this statute, cop killers could receive the death penalty. The state's highest court ruled parts of this statute unconstitutional in 2004, effectively killing the death penalty in New York State.

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