Gov. Bill Richardson Signs Bill Ending the Death Penalty

Great news from New Mexico. Governor Bill Richardson today signed the bill passed by the legislature abolishing the death penalty. He called it "the "most difficult decision in my political life."

"Faced with the reality that our system for imposing the death penalty can never be perfect, my conscience compels me to replace the death penalty with a solution that keeps society safe," the Democratic governor said at a news conference in the Capitol.

The death penalty will be replaced by life without the possibility of parole. New Mexico becomes the second state to end the death penalty since the Supreme Court restored it in 1976.

Total number of states now without a death penalty? 15. And hopefully rising.

< R.I.P. Natasha Richardson | March Madness >
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    Good for New Mexico; would that (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 09:40:48 PM EST
    Maryland had been successful in ending the death penalty instead of getting mired down in an effort to somehow retain the right to impose it in certain circumstances.  It escapes me how those who have settled on this solution don't seem to understand that the issue isn't the nature of the crimes, but the imprecision of evidence that results in the too-great possibility of executing someone who is innocent.

    How many (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by NYShooter on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:09:15 AM EST
    Inmates have been exonerated as new technologies became available?
    And how many innocent inmates are rotting in prison because they don't, or can't have access to DNA?

    And how many innocent prisoners have had their lives destroyed by rotten DA'S, Cops, lawyers, and Judges?
    And racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and errant "eye witnesses?"

    And how many guilty defendants went free because they could afford a good lawyer?
    And how many "doesn't matter" were executed because they couldn't?  

    So how many innocents have gone on to their maker by the blood drenched hand of "the people?"

    The scepter of life and/or death may belong to someone, but it can't belong to a country which ends its pledge with "Liberty and Justice for all."

    Great news for society (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by mexboy on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 07:41:02 AM EST
    Mr. Richardson, you did the right and moral thing...Now, if only California would do the same.

    I'll reserve comment (none / 0) (#1)
    by CoralGables on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 07:56:28 PM EST
    on Richardson's comment, and instead just congratulate New Mexico on a step forward that hopefully more states soon emulate.

    The Governor's comment (none / 0) (#13)
    by Mikeb302000 on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 05:08:17 AM EST
    is fascinating because it indicates that he took this decision even though he does not oppose the death penalty.  For me the reason for opposition is first, that it is morally wrong, but for someone who doesn't agree with that to admit to the other problems, and take action against them, is great.

    Tough decision? (none / 0) (#2)
    by ruffian on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 08:01:54 PM EST
    WTH?  I remain ecstatic about his absence from the Federal government.

    It's a good day (none / 0) (#3)
    by phat on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 08:08:19 PM EST
    Lethal injection stalled in committee in Nebraska, too.

    NM: Land of Enchantment/Enlightenment (none / 0) (#4)
    by txpolitico67 on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 08:11:38 PM EST
    Nice to know that our neighbor to the west has ended the death penalty.  Now only if some of that would creep over here into Texas.  Doubt it though. These people here don't see the death penalty making a DENT in the spiraling crime rate around the state.

    Our state population hovers around 22 million.  The crime index is 1.1 million.  So that makes 1 crime for every 20.1 or so people.

    We're 44th in crime rank and 39th in safety rank.  

    Yeah, that death penalty is REALLY working.

    nothing to lose? (none / 0) (#5)
    by diogenes on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 08:57:36 PM EST
    So now someone accused of murder can kill witnesses to the crime (or arrange for them to be killed) knowing that he has nothing to lose.  Someone being chased by cops on a murder charge can kill cops and have nothing to lose.  Someone in lockup can try an escape, kill corrections officers, and have nothing to lose.  This so that people who are neither cops nor corrections officers nor witnesses can feel enlightened.  

    Brilliant (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 10:48:27 PM EST
    Yeah, someone who has already demonstrated their willingness to commit murder is really really likely to be deterred!  Heck, no one has even been able to prove that the death penalty has a deterrent effect under ordinary circumstances, let alone among people who have already killed once.

    Here's some common sense: people who are on trial for murder kill witnesses because it lowers the chance of them being convicted, not because "hey, it's free, why not."  People in prison kill guards during an escape because they want to escape.  People who are fugitives from justice kill cops because it improves their chances of getting away.  Yeah, right, somewhere out there is a guy who is like "I better not kill that cop because I'll get the death penalty, I might as well just take the extra chance of getting caught and facing life without parole."


    Indeed (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by eric on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 11:28:41 PM EST
    those that are willing to, or have already killed, hardly make any of those decisions based upon the penalty that might await them if and when ey get caught.

    Does anyone really think anything like, "I better murder this guy in a [non death penalty state] because I can only get life!  If I did this in [a death penalty state], I would get the death penalty!"  Of course they don't.


    Brian Nichols (none / 0) (#17)
    by diogenes on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:10:07 PM EST
    In Georgia, he killed a bunch of people in a courthouse escape.  If that were an automatic immediate death penalty, then the only people who would do such a thing would people who want "suicide by death penalty".  People on death row seldom ask to stop their appeals; suicide by death penalty is an inefficient way to go.
    If people don't make calculations about the penalties of their actions, then why don't you run red lights and why do we even bother with LWOP?  After all, criminals don't think in advance,"I might get life without parole", or so you seem to think.

    I don't (none / 0) (#19)
    by eric on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 01:55:10 PM EST
    understand you at all.  "Automatic immediate death penalty"... what?  Running red lights?

    My point is that if one person decides to kill another with malice aforethought, then that person either doesn't care about the penalty, or doesn't think that he or she is going to get caught.  The severity of the penalty is irrelevant.

    People choose not to run red lights because they might get caught and they don't want to get a ticket.  That's the difference, these people are responsible people.  Murderers are not.

    The point about Brian Nichols i do not understand at all.


    Life in Prison without the possibility of parole (none / 0) (#6)
    by WS on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 09:27:50 PM EST
    is a terrible fate.    

    Good for NM (none / 0) (#8)
    by eric on Wed Mar 18, 2009 at 10:39:27 PM EST
    first, they start voting for Democrats and now this!  I would like to welcome NM to the upper midwest, despite its geography.

    Way to go, Billy Boy.. Congrats! (none / 0) (#15)
    by desertswine on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 09:28:38 AM EST

    I've always wondered (none / 0) (#16)
    by Pieter B on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:38:05 AM EST
     . . . why so many of those who fervently believe that "the government can't do anything right" are the staunchest supporters of the death penalty.

    As a native of North Carolina... (none / 0) (#18)
    by cag1970 on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 07:03:06 PM EST
    I'm happy that New Mexico has abolished the death penalty.  Remember, it's not like they were a leading executioner--not by a long shot.  In fact, when Tony Anaya left office as governor in the late 1980s, he commuted several death sentences.

    What also was of interest to me is that of the nearly 11,000 people who contacted Bill Richardson's office before he signed the repeal, over 8,000 favored repeal.  That says a lot to me.