No matter how terrible the crime is, the most serious penalty the New York State Criminal Justice system can give someone is life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Some people in Western New York are asking why the government can not go father to punish the most heinous of offenses.

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On Monday, November 28, 2022, the shooter in the domestic terrorist attack in Buffalo's Kingston neighborhood which left 10 dead, 3 wounded, and a city forever changed, pleaded guilty to 15 felony crimes including domestic terrorism, murder, and attempted murder.

I hope that the families of the victims and the survivors feel that justice has been served by this defendant pleading guilty today. Our office will request that the Court impose the maximum sentence.
-John J. Flynn, Erie County District Attorney

The maximum penalty that can be imposed by the New York State Supreme Court system is life in prison without parole. The shooter, whose name we have chosen not to mention, is all but assured to receive this penalty when he is sentenced on Wednesday, February 15, 2023. However many people in the community are wondering why this is the maximum penalty.

This wasn't always the case in New York State.

Until June 2004, New York State was one of many states where capital punishment was an available option for courts and juries to impose on criminals if the crime was serious enough.

Why Did New York Get Rid Of The Death Penalty

In the case People v. LaValle, the New York State Court of Appeals found that the death penalty violated the New York State Constitution and ordered the law invalidated. While the federal death penalty still is in effect, someone convicted in New York State Court can not be sentenced to death anymore. Shortly thereafter, New York Governor David Paterson ordered New York's Death Row closed.

There have been several attempts to reinstitute capital punishment in the state, but all of them have failed to gain any real support in the New York State Legislature.

Is The Death Penalty Fair and Just?

While there are several people in the United States who support the use of the death penalty, the New York Supreme Court says it's unconstitutional.

To go a bit further, organizations like Amnesty International say that capital punishment is cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment that is usually discriminatory and often used against the poor, people with mental disabilities, and minorities.

What do you think? Should New York bring back its death penalty?

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