ACLU Urges New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson To Sign Bill Abolishing Death Penalty

March 16, 2009 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today called on New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to sign a bill passed last week by the New Mexico state Senate that would repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The bill, HB 245, was passed by the state House on February 11 before being approved by the Senate 24-18 Friday. If signed into law, New Mexico would become the 15th state to abandon capital punishment. According to news reports, Richardson, who has opposed repealing the death penalty in the past, is seriously considering signing the bill.

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

“It is welcome news that Gov. Richardson is giving considerable thought to the need to abolish the death penalty in New Mexico and he deserves credit for taking seriously the reality that the bankrupting system of capital punishment cannot be statistically or legally defended. Beyond the exorbitant cost to the taxpayers of maintaining the death penalty, there are serious and rampant flaws inherent to our nation’s capital punishment system that cannot be ignored. The 130 innocent people who have been exonerated during the past 35 years after being sentenced to death speak to the gamble that is taken every time an execution is carried out. What’s more, study after study has shown that the death penalty is plagued by racial, economic and geographic discrimination. And there is absolutely no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime. We very much hope that Gov. Richardson signs this historic bill.”

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