Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New Castle said he will advance legislation to permanently remove the death penalty "and its ugly stain in our history -- from state law once and for all."
Cuomo, who is running for re-election to a third term, said he action is in solidarity with Pope Francis and in honor of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
"By declaring the death penalty inadmissible in all cases and working to end the practice globally, Pope Francis is ushering in a more righteous world for us all. The death penalty is morally indefensible and has no place in the 21st century,'' Cuomo said.
New York's last execution took place in 1963, when Eddie Mays was electrocuted at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining. The state was the first to adopt the electric chair as a method of execution, which replaced hanging.
Cuomo said, "Pope Francis's decision is a validation of my father's principled stand against the death penalty in the face of overwhelming support for capital punishment. My father staked his political career on his opposition to the death penalty and never backed down, saying it 'demeans those who strive to preserve human life and dignity.'
As Governor, Mario Cuomo vetoed legislation reinstating the death penalty 12 times in 12 years.
" He did this because he believed the death penalty was wrong and he had the courage to stand firm in his beliefs -- so much so that he was willing to lose his office rather than capitulate. Pop was right then, and he is right now," Gov. Cuomo said.
The death penalty was reinstated in New York under former Republican Gov. George Pataki's administration but halted by the courts in 2004. Pataki defeated Mario Cuomo in 1994. Pataki of Garrison, is a former mayor of Peekskill and one-time presidential candidate.
Cuomo added, "In his final years, my father continued to advocate for eliminating the law from the books, calling it a 'stain on our conscience."
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