Capital punishment has always been a topic of controversy in the United States. The debate about the death penalty, its value as a way to permanently incapacitate society's most dangerous criminals and its effectiveness as a deterrent to violent crime, has increased. This phenomenon is particularly visible in New York State, where, in 2004, the New York Court of Appeals struck down the State's death penalty statute as invalid under the New York Constitution. This Note describes the evolution of New York's 1995 death penalty statute, analyzing the way in which the state legislature could respond to the statute's unconstitutionality, and recommends that the legislature end the current debate over the future of capital punishment in New York by abolishing the death penalty. Part I describes the evolution of death penalty legislation at the federal level and within New York State. Part I further discusses the legislative reaction to the statute's invalidation and describes the current debate in New York about the continued desirability of capital punishment. Part II presents the legislative alternatives of either amending or abolishing New York's death penalty statute and discusses the arguments for and against each option. Finally, Part III argues that despite the challenges involved in either amending and reinstating the death penalty or abolishing it, the legislature should not allow the statute simply to remain inoperable by fault. This note concludes that given the need for action, the State Legislature should move to abolish the death penalty in New York.

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