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It is usually called simply the chair and at one time was in constant use at New Yorks legendary Sing Sing Prison But no executions have occurred in New York since 1963 a time when support for capital punishment was eroding across the country The states capital punishment statute was declared unconstitutional in 1977 In this year and in each of the following 17 years Democratic governors vetoed legislation to restore the death penaltyYet in 1994 with the coming of republican Governor George Pataki an agreement was quickly reached with legislative leaders on a law to revive the death penalty for several categories of murder which included about ten types of homicides The signing of the law also replaced electrocution with lethal injection New Yorks stance on capital punishment reflects an ongoing nationwide trend More than thirty other states have reinstated the death penalty since the early 1970s with many others still consideringOpinion surveys show strong support for the death penalty in all regions of the country and among virtually all population groups A Gallup Poll taken in 1994 reported that eighty percent of the population favored the death sentence for persons convicted of murder About forty percent advocating the death penalty for homicide said that they wanted revenge an eye for an eye Roughly thirteen percent of the advocates cited its alleged deterrent effect Yet law enforcement officials throughout the country do not consider the death penalty as an effective deterrent In a national poll in 1995 of 386 police chiefs and sheriffs the death penalty was ranked as the least cost-effective way of reducing violent crimeFor convicted murderers who have been sitting on death row for years Congress and the Supreme Court could turn the death penalty into a reality A bill approved by the house in early February of 1995 would curb the ability of inmates to file habeas corpus petitions in which they seek federal review of their convictions in state
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