Statement of Peter Simonson, ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 13, 2009 CONTACT: Whitney Potter (505) 507-9898 or
SANTA FE—Today, legislation replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole (HB 285) sponsored by Democrat Gail Chasey, of Bernalillo County, passed the New Mexico Legislature. The bill cleared its final hurdle in the State Senate today by a vote of 24 to 18. The House voted 40 to 28 in favor of HB 285 on February 11, 2009. The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.
The ACLU of New Mexico praises lawmakers today for voting to end capital punishment in the state of New Mexico. We hope it will generate momentum in the campaign to end capital punishment nationwide.
The death penalty is the ultimate denial of civil liberties. In the past 35 years, 130 inmates were found to be innocent and released from death row. State officials and opinion leaders have acknowledged what advocates have said for years: the death penalty is a public policy disaster that is expensive, discriminatory, cruel and immoral.
We acknowledge the tireless work of death penalty opponents, including the remarkable leadership of the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty, and ACLU members from across New Mexico who lobbied their legislators in support of abolition.
If signed by Governor Bill Richardson, New Mexico will become the 15th state with no death penalty. The ACLU strongly urges the Governor to sign this historic piece of legislation.


The mission of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico is to maintain and advance the cause of civil liberties within the state of New Mexico, with particular emphasis on the freedom of religion, speech, press, association, and assemblage, and the right to vote, due process of law and equal protection of law, and to take any legitimate action in the furtherance and defense of such purposes. These objectives shall be sought wholly without political partisanship.