Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico signed into law a bill repealing the death penality in his state this evening. In a statement, he said:
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. If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.
But the reality is the system is not perfect – far from it. The system is inherently defective. DNA testing has proven that. Innocent people have been put on death row all across the country.
The bill replaces the death penalty with life without parole. There are 14 other states that have abolished the death penalty.
As you might expect, the bill was controversial. The Governor’s office received “…10,847 phone calls, e-mails and walk-in comments from people who wanted to voice their opinions on the legislation” before Richardson signed the bill. Of those, 8,102 were for a repeal of the death penalty and 2,745 were against it.
It seems no one in government quite wants to admit it, but surely innocent people have not just “been put on death row” — as Richardson states — but put to death. That seems to me a good reason to oppose the death penalty.