March 18, 2009

Move Is Indicative Of A National Trend Toward Decreasing Use Of Capital Punishment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2582 or 2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today praised New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson for signing a bill abolishing the death penalty in New Mexico and replacing it with a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The bill, HB 285, was passed by the state House last month and was approved by the Senate Friday. With its signing, New Mexico becomes the fifteenth state to abandon capital punishment. The legislatures in a number of other states – including Colorado, Montana, Kansas, New Hampshire and Maryland – have all debated bills this year that would replace the death penalty with permanent imprisonment.

The following can be attributed to John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project:

“Gov. Richardson’s decision today to sign the bill abolishing the death penalty in New Mexico is a historic step and a clear sign that the United States continues to make significant progress toward eradicating capital punishment once and for all. Gov. Richardson’s courageous and enlightened decision should send a powerful message to other states, governors and Americans about the need to take a hard look at our error-prone, discriminatory and bankrupting system of capital punishment. It is a system incapable of ensuring that innocent lives are not unjustly taken. It is a system plagued by racial, economic and geographic discrimination. And it is a system that police chiefs, criminologists and statistical experts around the country agree does not deter crime. Gov. Richardson deserves enormous credit for acting in the best interests of the people of his state and the people of this country.”

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