Innocent people have been convicted and sentenced to death
In 1974, New Mexico sentenced to death four innocent men, Thomas Gladis, Ronald Keine, Clarence Smith and Richard Greer, based on false witness testimony and police misconduct. They were released two years later when the actual killer confessed.
Since 1973, 139 innocent men and women in 26 states have been released from death rows across the country, with the number of exonerations increasing since 2000 (Northwestern University, DP Information Center).
Researchers Radelet and Bedau found 23 cases since 1900 where innocent people were executed. They published their findings in a book In Spite of Innocence, which was published by Northeastern University Press in 1992.
In many cases of exoneration evidence of innocence is discovered by a quirk of fate, such as the case of Juan Melendez when a long-forgotten taped confession by the real killer was discovered sixteen years after Juan had been sentenced to death. With 1136 people executed in this country since 1976, we will never know how many were not so “fortunate.”
The death penalty system in this country is broken, and the cost of executing an innocent person is too high. Repealing the death penalty in New Mexico and replacing it with life without the possibility of parole protects society and ensures we do not execute an innocent person.