STUDIES: The Application of the Death Penalty in New Mexico

A study by attorney Marcia Wilson was recently published in the New Mexico Law Review: “The Application of the Death Penalty in New Mexico, July 1979 through December 2007: An Empirical Analysis.”  Wilson's research reveals new information on how the death penalty was applied in New Mexico after its reinstatement.  The article was published before New Mexico repealed the death penalty in March 2009, and served as valuable information during the legislative debate.  Wilson concluded, “The numbers and percentages here suggest that the imposition of the death penalty in New Mexico is still influenced by legally irrelevant issues such as where or when the crime was committed and the race or ethnicity of the victim and the defendant.” 

Between 1979 through 2007 in New Mexico:

  • 211 death penalty cases filed
  • 203 were resolved by the end of 2007
  • 9 cases were dismissed before trial
  • 47.8% of the resolved cases ended with a plea bargain and a sentence less than death
  • 46.9% of the resolved cases went to trial
  • 25% of the resolved cases had a penalty trial
  • 15 people were sentened to death
  • 2 defendants remained on death row still challenging their death sentence
  • 1 defendant was executed (after dropping his appeals).

(M. Wilson, "The Application of the Death Penalty in New Mexico, July 1979 through December 2007: An Empirical Analysis," 38 New Mexico Law Review 255 (2008)).  See Recent Legislative Activity, Studies, and Arbitrariness.