The New Mexico Legislature last week voted to replace the death penalty with life impriosnment without parole. Yesterday Gov. Bill Richardson signed House Bill 285, making New Mexico the second state to repeal the death penalty by vote of elected representatives. It shows that New Jersey's 2007 repeal earns it the title, as my forthcoming essay declares, "herald of change".
New Mexico last executed a person in 1960. State Representative Gail Chasey introduced the measure and led the effort in the legislature.
Troubled by the heavy minority poplation in the state's prisons, and the possibility of error, he nonetheless found the decision difficult. Richardson explained in his signing statement:
As in New Jersey the Catholic Church, and citizen activists like the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty (picture above) made a major contribution.