Why New Mexico Repealed the Death Penalty
New Mexico rarely used this expensive and unfair system:
NM executed one person since 1960, and that occurred because the defendant dropped his right to appeal and asked to be executed. No death sentence in NM since 1979 has withstood appeals.
The death penalty is too costly:
New Mexico's revenues have declined since shortly before the death penalty was abolished. Attempting to reinstate the death penalty would waste resources that would be better spent helping all New Mexicans instead of adding back unnecessary expenses to the state budget. According to the NM Public Defender Department, ending the death penalty saved New Mexico several million dollars each year. In December, 2004, Supreme Court Chief Justice Bosson estimated that the cost of a death penalty case was six times higher than other murder cases in New Mexico.
Society is safe:
We repealed the death penalty in New Mexico in 2009, replacing it with a sentence of life without possibility of parole. That made us the last state to implement true life without parole. Our society is safe from murderers who will spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Reinstating the death penalty means risking a wrongful execution:
At least 156 men and women who were convicted and sentenced to death have been released from death row nationwide since 1973. In 1974, New Mexico sentenced four innocent men to death based on false witness testimony and police misconduct. The Death Penalty Information Center estimates that at least ten of the people executed since 1976 were executed despite substantial doubts about their guilt.
The use of the death penalty has plummeted in the United States:
The number of executions has dropped every year since 1999, when there were 98 executions. In 2015, there were only 28 executions in the United States, a reduction of 70% since 1999.
In 2015, there were only 49 new death sentences imposed, down from a high of 315 in 1996, a reduction of nearly 85%.
Other states have also repealed the death penalty:
The tide is turning on the death penalty in the United States. In the last 9 years, 8 states have repealed the death penalty - New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, Nebraska and Delaware. However, this year Nebraskans will vote on the issue during the general election.
Additionally, several legislatures have passed or come close to passing repeal bills in recent years, including Montana, Colorado, Kansas, and New Hampshire. And four states have imposed moratoriums including Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
Public opinion supported the 2009 legislation:
A statewide December 2008 poll of likely New Mexican voters showed that nearly two thirds supported replacing the death penalty with life without parole plus restitution to victims' families.
New Mexicans prefer alternatives to the death penalty:
In 2013, after a lengthy and expensive trial, a jury of New Mexicans in federal court in Albuquerque found John McCluskey guilty of killing two people and other crimes, but did not sentence him to death.
National scientific polls conducted in 2010 show a preference for alternative sentences:
In a 2010 national poll of 500 police chiefs only 1% considered greater use of the death penalty the best way to reduce violence. Voters agreed - 61% of U.S. voters chose various alternative sentences over the death penalty as the proper punishment for murder. Only 33% chose the death penalty. The economy clearly was on the public's mind, as fully 65% in the same poll supported replacing the death penalty and using the money saved for crime prevention.