Lawmakers in New Jersey have approved a moratorium on the death penalty. It is the first time a U.S. legislative body has moved to block executions since the Supreme Court reinstated the punishment in 1976.
The state General Assembly voted Monday evening 55 to 21 to suspend executions while a commission prepares a report on the fairness and cost-effectiveness of the death penalty. The other half of the legislature, New Jersey's Senate, approved the measure last month.
Two other states, Maryland and Illinois, have suspended executions by order of the governor. Maryland's suspension has since expired.
In Virginia, Governor Mark Warner has ordered DNA. testing that could prove the guilt or innocence of a man executed in 1992. Warner's order is believed to be the first request for a review of DNA. evidence after an execution.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.