A proposal moving through the Democrat-controlled state Legislature that would ban prisoner executions could be on the governor's desk by the end of the year, The New York Times reported Monday.
New Jersey, which reinstated the death penalty in 1982, hasn't executed anyone since 1963.
If approved by state lawmakers, Gov. Jon Corzine, an ardent opponent of the death penalty, has said that he will sign the bill, giving the eight men currently on the state's death row reprieves.
Lawmakers in Nebraska and New Mexico have considered similar proposals.
If passed, the measure would be "historic," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.
"I think it is part of this bigger picture where the death penalty is on the defensive," he told the newspaper.
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