New Mexico Repeals the Death Penalty

There’s some good news out of New Mexico. Yesterday, Governor Bill Richardson signed legislation that repealed the state’s death penalty. New Mexico joins 14 other states that do not impose capital punishment. It is the second state (New Jersey was the first in 2007) to ban executions in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated it in 1976.

Richardson said he made the decision after going to the state penitentiary, where he saw the death chamber and visited the maximum security unit where those sentenced to life without parole could be housed. Richardson said he didn't have confidence in the criminal justice system as the final arbiter of life and death. He said, "If you're going to put somebody to death, the ... criminal justice system has to be perfect, and it isn't," he said.

Perhaps other states will follow New Mexico’s lead. It is a bold new step forward to repair a system that is fundamentally flawed.