"Not since 1965 has a state legislature done what New Jersey's did today," announced Pete Williams. Abolishing capital punishment would seem to be big news, but only NBC assigned a reporter to the vote. ABC mentioned it in passing; CBS not at all. Admittedly the New Jersey vote had a direct impact on few people--there are only eight residents on the state's Death Row. However the DC-based Williams in his In Depth report saw it as "one of the clearest signs yet of how much the country's attitude to the death penalty is changing." Both death sentences (from 300 in 1986 to 128 this year) and actual executions (from 98 in 1999 to 42 this year) are on a downward trend nationwide and five other states may follow New Jersey's lead.
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