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Does New York have the death penalty?

| Aug 3, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

The death penalty is an issue that divides people and brings about passionate emotions. Some people feel it is not an appropriate means of punishment, while others feel it is. Each state has the right to set its own laws concerning the death penalty for state crimes. Under federal law, the death penalty is legal and the government does use it.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, New York does not use the death penalty. The last time the state used it was in 1963.


Throughout the state’s history, it has abolished and reinstated the death penalty. It started in 1860 when the state declared hanging was an inhumane method to put someone to death. At that time, hanging was the only method used to carry out the death penalty, so this declaration meant the death penalty was no longer useful.

This changed again in 1861 when the law changed back, allowing hangings to resume as a penalty for certain crimes. It remained in effect for the rest of the 1800s.

In 1967, that state put limitations for the use of the death penalty in place, which reduced how often courts imposed it. The federal law changed in 1972 when the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty, which meant all states had to stop using it. However, this did not last as the court reversed the decision.

Final abolishment

In 1984, the state finally abolished the death penalty. There were attempts to reinstate it, but governors vetoed any attempts. However, a new governor in 1995 did manage to reinstate it, but an appeals court declared it unconstitutional. By 2007, there were no longer any remaining death sentences handed down and no inmates were serving time under the sentence. In 2008, the governor had all execution equipment removed from facilities.


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