March 19th, 2009
05:28 PM ET

New Mexico repeals death penalty

Editor’s Note:You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/19/gov-bill-richardson.jpg]

Just as our new live trial, New Mexico v. Brandon Craig got underway yesterday, there was even bigger news breaking in the state. Governor Bill Richardson signed into law a repeal of the state’s death penalty.
That makes New Mexico the second state to ban executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. The repeal, which passed a vote in the state senate Friday and was approved by the house a month earlier, will take effect July 1st and will apply to crimes committed after that date. Once in effect, the most severe punishment will be a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Governor Richardson has long been a proponent of capital punishment. But he had the courage to face the fact that our system of justice can never be perfect. He signed the bill because his conscience compelled him to do so. This was the “most difficult decision” of his political life, Richardson said, but “the potential for … Execution of an innocent person stands as anathema to our very sensibilities as human beings.” And he’s right.

If the innocence movement has taught us anything it is that our justice system is not perfect. We make mistakes. Without the death penalty, New Mexico can avoid the kind of fatal error that is bound to happen elsewhere — if it hasn’t already.

Filed under: Death penalty • Jami Floyd
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. J, Clark

    Yes, Scott. New Mexico rests in the center of an ethics black hole located along the border of Mexico. Now we can also claim the coveted role of "friends for amoral murderers.

    March 24, 2009 at 12:59 am |
  2. J, Clark

    Violent Crime is increasing in New Mexico, as are Murder and rape/murder. The NM legislature and Governor Richardson have ensured a no death penalty court system for the sick murderer that killed thirteen women (burying them on the west mesa). The creep who killed three teenagers over a $500.00 dollar drug dept can also stop worrying about the death penalty now.

    It makes me ill to see New Mexico state government work to eliminate the death penalty just as Mexican Drug Cartels have started to export their war to the U.S.

    People with so little respect for the lives of others should not be allowed to live, and society will be safer in states that ensure that homicidal monsters cannot be sure that they will not lose their lives.

    Governor Richardson, you should work to improve the trail system if you consider it unfair. All you accomplished in signing this bill is to risk the lives of those of us who do not live under the protection of New Mexico State Troopers. I am ashamed to have voted for you.

    March 24, 2009 at 12:36 am |
  3. Marko (old Europe)

    Incredible, from all of the posters above only Mari had a courage to call it like it is: killing is and act of vengeance, not punishment, and in it's core it is hypocritical and immoral.
    All of you 'christian' folk in US go so far against the basics of your own religion and common sense just to fulfill your impulse to kill the guilty party.
    Deterrent it is not, just compare the murder rates in US to Europe for example.
    It is also not a 'punishment' of any sort if you really think about it, since the person is simply erased from the Earth.
    What it is, it is just a sick way to gratify the victim or their families and a way to suck just a little bit more life from our collective humanity.

    March 19, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  4. Bern Houston

    Go Anderson!!!! Saw you today on Ellen's show. What a great personality!!!!! You are so cool! Not to mention the fantastic job you do for CNN. Good work!!!!

    March 19, 2009 at 8:19 pm |
  5. Bern Houston

    I am glad New Mexico, repealed the death penalty. I do not believe anyone has the right to judge, "put to death" anyone. We are not to judge people, that is up to the Lord, as the Bible teaches.
    Put these inmates, to work cleaning our highways and byways. saving tax dollars, and yes give them a life sentence with no chance of parole, if convicted of murder, for instance. But many people are put to death, that are innocent. How does one account for that?

    March 19, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  6. Gary Mitchell

    I am sick and tired of the "crybaby Congressional bureacrats"
    wailing and crying a river of tears over AIG bonuses. Let the
    members of Congress quit flying all over the U.S. on military jets,
    give back the hundreds of thousands of dollars they spend annually to run their offices, rescind their continuing pay increases, quit travelling with lobbyists to foreign countries under the guise of "exploring
    trade missions", and cut every single earmark (8,000 of them)
    out of the current '09 federal budget. I don't approve of the
    AIG bonuses but I am sick to my stomach over the hypocrisy
    of Congressional bureacrats who collectively waste money
    regularly under the guise of "Business As Usual."

    March 19, 2009 at 7:22 pm |
  7. Annie Kate

    I'm of mixed feelings about this repeal of the death penalty. If a person is convicted with DNA evidence of a heinous crime (murder or mass murder) then I think the death penalty is appropriate. And with DNA evidence it's my understanding that evidence of that sort is pretty well inconvertible so convicting someone who is innocent is pretty well ruled out. Sometimes even life in prison isn't enough for some crimes.

    March 19, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  8. Mari

    Good, it is written in the Gospels that Jesus came to abolish the old law of "an eye for an eye..." How many people have been put to death who were innocent? How many who were mentally ill? Better a life term than to take the life of another as revenge.

    March 19, 2009 at 7:03 pm |
  9. Carl Parisien Natick MA

    Carl Parisien Natick MA says: good move. Since when does killing someone justify killing someone?

    March 19, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  10. G. Martinez

    Brandon Craig must be so happy. He pretty much gets away with the murder of three innocents with a slap on the wrist.

    Richardson should think about the 24 bullets which Mr. Craig used to kill Kevin Shirley, 17, Luis Garcia, 16, and Matthew Hunt, 17, and the many more bullets that will take many more innocent lives do to the Governor's decision to ban the death penalty.

    This is a sad day for New Mexico and its people.

    March 19, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  11. Fay - California

    Governor Richardson made the right call – there have been too many cases of innocent people being put to death under this flawed system and it has also been proven that the threat of the death penalty has not been effective as a deterrant to crime and is much more expensive than simply keeping criminals behind bars.

    March 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  12. G. Martinez

    This is real bad policy for New Mexico. The death penalty is a very real deterrent and it also offers the family a measure of justice to know that the murderer of a loved one pays for his crime. At best this ban means that murderers will sit in a prison cell for years planning which inmate to rape or kill. At worst it means that murderers could some day escape or be freed into the general population to kill once more.

    March 19, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  13. G. Martinez

    You go Bill Richardson! It brings me so much joy to see so much tenderness and wholehearted concern for the guilty. Bill you are the poster child for the Liberal cause.

    New Mexico will soon look like Old Mexico. Old Mexico also banned its death penalty. Now drug lords that, not often, but sometimes end up in prison can continue their violence and intimidation from their cells.

    Some people learn nothing from history. I know that eventually New Mexico will reinstate the death penalty. It will certainly get real nasty before the people of that poor state once again demand it, but it is a shame of how many innocents will have to die in order for Governor Richardson to feel good about himself.

    March 19, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  14. Casey

    More wasted tax payers dollars. Maybe we can get violent offenders parole as well.

    March 19, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  15. RIch Pretty Girl

    We have killed innocent people on death row. I don't believe in taking innocent lives, if it is for the greater good. So maybe we execute the bad guys, but it's at the cost of the occasional good guy. You can never undo what evil has been done; you have to forgive and move on.

    March 19, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  16. Scott

    Whoa whoa whoa there is a New Mexico?

    March 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  17. Mike, Zephyrhills, FL

    Appeal Process takes 20 yrs and its not deterring any crime. Besides the more people we can put in jail the more jobs we create , good state and federal jobs with benefits, Heck only good jobs we have in our country.

    March 19, 2009 at 5:44 pm |

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