July 19, 2018 | ° F

Denounce regressive capital punishment

In reaction to the fatal shooting of Lakewood, N.J., Police Officer Christopher Matlosz, state Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean, has put forward a piece of legislation which would reinstate the death penalty in New Jersey. Singer's reasoning is that, "For certain crimes, however, life in prison is not justice." Essentially, Singer is endorsing the asinine logic behind the use of the death penalty — that is, that two wrongs make a right. As every child is taught by their parents, that is not true.

We understand Singer is upset about Matlosz's death, and he has every right to be so. Matlosz died senselessly in the line of duty. But reinstating the death penalty will not bring him back, nor will it serve to avenge him in any way. Instead, it will just lead to more senseless death — the only difference being that this senseless death would be government-sanctioned.

In a way, Singer's decision to introduce this legislation now suggests that it is nothing more than a reactionary response and not a well thought-out solution for violent crime. New Jersey removed the death penalty in the first place for a reason. It is a barbaric form of punishment, one which makes the government no better than the criminal who receives the penalty. It would be regression for the state to bring it back. We should always be moving forward, not sliding backwards — especially in tragic times such as these.

If Singer feels that life in prison is too light a punishment for violent criminals, he should seek to reform the prison system, instead of being rash and attempting to fight violence with more violence. There is certainly room for improvement within New Jersey's prison system, and we would whole-heartedly support reform in that area.

New Jersey has not executed anyone since 1963. Why break such an impressive humanitarian streak? It is easy to act on one's gut reactions in times of tragedy. But acting without reflection, as it seems Singer is doing in this case, often leads to terrible mistakes. Reinstating the death penalty is a perfect example of an impulsive action, which is ultimately a mistake, even though the intentions behind the action were good.

We have faith the rest of New Jersey's legislators will not let this bill come to pass, so we are not too worried about one man's mistake becoming an entire state's problem. Still, Singer needs to rethink his choice to introduce this bill.

The Daily Targum

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