New York does not have the death penalty. But its history with this form of punishment has been a roller coaster.
The controversy over the death penalty began in the 1860s when the legislature accidentally outlawed it. They were trying to ban the practice of hanging, but because that was the only method of execution, they managed to outlaw the whole practice. While they did fix it and reinstate the death penalty, that was far from the end of the saga.
In 1967, the legislature limited the use of the death penalty. This move made it very difficult to get the punishment in most cases.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972, which banned its use in all states. But in 1973, New York lawmakers created mandatory death sentence rulings in certain cases, including killing a correctional or police officer or murder of another inmate.
However, in 1977 and 1984, the highest court in the state ruled against the use of the death penalty and essentially ended it in the state. But a new governor in 1995 reinstated it. It stood as a legal form of punishment until 2004 when the state appeals court ruled it was unconstitutional. In 2008, the governor took steps to ensure the state would never again have to debate the death penalty by removing all execution equipment from penitentiaries.
Today, New York does not have a death penalty, and considering the past movement, it does not appear to be something that will come back again. The history may have been up and down, but the state always seemed to want to limit the use of this sentence and eventually decided it was not appropriate.
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