Legislative Activity - New Mexico

  • New Mexico House Approves Death Penalty Repeal Bill The New Mexico House of Representatives has approved legislation that would repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without parole. Supporters of the measure say that it will save taxpayers an estimated $3 million a year, money they contend would be better spent on helping victims' families. They also note that capital punishment could result in an innocent person being executed, does not deter murder, and is unfairly administered in the state. "There are no rich people on death row," noted Rep. Gail Chasey (pictured), who sponsored the legislation. Though prosecutors have sought the death penalty 207 times since 1979, the death penalty was imposed only 28 times. Nineteen of those sentences were overturned, five were commuted by former Governor Toney Anaya, one prisoner died on death row, one prisoner was executed, and two remain on death row. The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 41-28, now goes to the Senate for consideration. (Associated Press, February 12, 2007).
  • Governor Gary Johnson has said that he will consider placing repeal of the state's death penalty on the 2002 agenda of the New Mexico legislature. Johnson said he is a supporter of capital punishment, but believes the state could mistakenly execute an innocent person. "I do think that death-penalty policy, as public policy, has flaws," he said (Albuquerque Journal, 12/19/01).
  • On February 10, 2001, a bill to repeal capital punishment in New Mexico was defeated by one vote in the state Senate. The bill (SB165), sponsored in the Senate by Manny Aragon (D-Albuquerque), would have abolished the death penalty and replaced it with a sentence of life in prison without parole. Currently, a prisoner serving a life sentence in New Mexico in eligible for parole after serving 30 years. (Albuquerque Journal, 2/10/01) A companion bill in the House (HB 239) was introduced by Rep. Beam and referred to the House Committee on Appropriations and Finance on January 26, 2001.