Friday, February 20, 2009

New Mexico: URGENT letter writing campain - please participate and spread widely!

Earlier this week, Governor Bill Richardson suggested in comments to the media that he has "softened" his views on the death penalty, deliberately "sending a signal" to the NM Senate that it should take a vote on the groundbreaking package of legislation to repeal the death penalty and enhance support for murder victim's families in New Mexico. Read these statements on our web page at

Please take a few minutes RIGHT NOW to thank Governor Richardson for openly reconsidering his position on the death penalty, and urge him to support HB 285 to repeal the death penalty and HB 211 and HB 284 to enhance support for murder victim families in our state. A short, hand written note sent in the mail is the single most important action you can take. You can also call, fax and e-mail, but please send your short note in the mail first.

If you wish to expand on the issues, see additional talking points below. The most important thing is that you communicate now.

Contact NM Governor Bill Richardson at:

Office of the Governor
490 Old Santa Fe Trail
Room 400
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Telephone: (505)827-3000
Fax: (505)827-3026

Thank you for taking this action. If you have any questions or I can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Viki Elkey, Executive Director
New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty

Main Message: Please encourage Governor Richardson to support HB 285 to abolish the death penalty in New Mexico, and also support HB 211 that allows for paid or unpaid leave for family members to attend court proceedings and HB 284 that expands services to murder victim family members in New Mexico.

Optional points to make in your message to the Governor:

It's about helping murder victim families:
New Mexico will become the first state to TRULY put victims' families first. When murder happens, it is the family of the victim that suffers the most and the longest - yet our criminal justice system is focused on how to treat the murderer. It is time for the focus to return to the family, to address the harsh realities of losing a loved one. The Catastrophic Crime and Family Restitution Program would replace the death penalty with true life without parole and create an innovative package of services for the families of murder victims - the first such program in the country. This legislation is the toughest on criminals and the most compassionate to the families of the victim.

Public opinion supports this package of bills:
A statewide December 2008 poll of likely New Mexican voters showed that 64% support replacing the death penalty with life without parole plus restitution to victims' families.

Keeping the death penalty means risking a wrongful execution:
At least 130 men and women who were convicted and sentenced to death have been released from death row nationwide since 1973 – less than 15% of them through DNA evidence. Rather, it is false witness testimony, police misconduct and prosecutorial misconduct that put innocent men and women on death row in this country. In 1974, New Mexico sentenced to death four innocent men, Thomas Gladis, Ronald Keine, Clarence Smith and Richard Greer, based on false witness testimony and police misconduct. A 1992 study found 23 cases since 1900 where innocent people were executed.

The death penalty costs too much:
According to the NM Public Defender Department, the abolition of the death penalty would save New Mexico several million dollars each year. The costs of the death penalty are borne systemically, impacting the Public Defender Department, the Attorney General's office, the various District Attorney offices, and the trial and the appellate courts. In December, 2004, Supreme Court Chief Justice Bosson estimated that the cost of a death penalty case was 6 times higher than other murder cases in New Mexico.

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