New Mexico abolishes the death penalty

Amnesty International Press Release
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A ‘Huge Victory Not Only For the Human Rights Community,
but for Humanity At Large’

Contact: Wende Gozan, 212-633-4247,, or Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn 917-815-6439,

(Washington, DC) – Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today applauded New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for signing into law House Bill 285, which legislatively abolishes the death penalty in the state. The human rights organization praised the governor for demonstrating true leadership and eliminating a fatally flawed system that does not deter violent crime.

“This is a milestone that will make other states stand up and take notice,” said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA. “After considering the extensive monetary cost of maintaining capital punishment, as well as the unending emotional cost to victims’ families, Governor Richardson made the only logical choice. His commendable and courageous action serves to inspire other lawmakers who are grappling with this issue. This is a huge victory not only for the people of New Mexico, but for human rights at large.”

New Mexico is the second state in the United States in the past two years to legislatively abolish the death penalty; New Jersey led the charge when Governor John Corzine signed abolition into law in December 2007. Currently Nebraska, New Hampshire, Colorado and Montana are considering a variety of abolition bills.

Developments in New Mexico also mirror overall global abolition trends. Since 1990, an average of three countries each year has abolished the death penalty, and today more than two-thirds of the world’s nations have ended capital punishment in law or practice. “A new day had dawned in New Mexico, as it proudly joins the majority of the international community in abandoning this repugnant practice,” said Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, Director of the Death Penalty Abolition Campaign.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries who campaign for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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