cross-posted from The Dream Antilles
Yesterday was a wonderful day for me and for everyone else who hopes that state killing will eventually be abolished in the US:
Gov. Bill Richardson, who has supported capital punishment, signed legislation to repeal New Mexico’s death penalty, calling it the “most difficult decision in my political life.”
The new law replaces lethal injection with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The repeal takes effect on July 1, and applies only to crimes committed after that date.
“Regardless of my personal opinion about the death penalty, I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said.
Europe’s human rights watchdog on Thursday hailed the decision as “a victory for civilization.” The American Civil Liberties Union called it “a historic step and a clear sign that the United States continues to make significant progress toward eradicating capital punishment once and for all.”
I wrote about this on several occasions, and I requested repeatedly in those essays that you call the Governor and urge him to sign the bill. It is especially for all of those phone calls to the Governor and your emails to him that I want to thank you. This is a great victory. And, truthfully, it would not have happened without your support. I applaud you!
I know that one abolitionist friend today is joyfully wearing a t-shirt that says, “Someday happens.”
For the record: New Mexico became the second state, after New Jersey, to repeal the death penalty legislatively since 1965, when both Iowa and West Virginia repealed their death penalty laws. New York’s death penalty was struck down as unconstitutional, and it has not been re-enacted. Twelve other states never had the death penalty: they either outlawed it before 1965, or after 1972 after Furman v. Georgia struck down all death penalty laws, they never enacted a new one. Fifteen states, including New Mexico, now do not have the death penalty. Thirty-five states, the military and the U.S. federal government retain it.
Thanks! Let’s do this again soon!!
h/t Abe Bonowitz