Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Colosseum Shines Over New Jersey Vote

"We light it up when there is real good news, a real step forward in the campaign against the death penalty," said Mario Marazziti, a spokesman for Sant'Egidio and coordinator of its campaign for a worldwide moratorium of the death penalty, in a telephone interview from Italy.

New Jersey's legislature voted this week to replace the state's death penalty with life in prison without parole. Gov. Jon Corzine signed the bill in a Statehouse ceremony on Monday. The Colosseum lighting would happen the following day, Marazziti said.

The Colosseum, a site of executions and gladiator contests during the Roman Empire, has emerged as a symbol in organized campaigns against capital punishment. It has received the golden treatment -- its regular lighting is white -- about 20 times since 1999, most recently last month after a committee of the United Nations General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions, Marazziti said.

Other special lightings include when Albania abolished its death penalty in 1999 and in 2003 when then-Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted all death sentences in that state.