New Mexico Repeals Death Penalty
Governor Bill Richardson signed the bill today, calling the criminal justice system “inherently defective” in its use of the death penalty. The bill replaces the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole.
New Mexico has executed only one person since the penalty was reinstated in 1976. It is the second state to have banned capital punishment since the reinstatement by the U.S. Supreme Court (the other is New Jersey). There are now 15 states which have no death penalty.
The law goes into effect in July and will apply only to crimes committed after then. Two current death row inmates’ sentences are unchanged by the law.
Note, however, that individuals sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, though they are not eligible for parole may seek amnesty, commutation, or pardon from the governor.