For Immediate Release

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Will Matthews, ACLU, (212) 549-2582 or 2666;

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson Takes Bold Step By Abolishing Death Penalty

Move Is Indicative Of A National Trend Toward Decreasing Use Of Capital Punishment

American Civil Liberties Union today praised New Mexico Gov. Bill
Richardson for signing a bill abolishing the death penalty in New
Mexico and replacing it with a sentence of life imprisonment without
the possibility of parole.

The bill, HB 285, was passed by the state House last month and was
approved by the Senate Friday. With its signing, New Mexico becomes the
fifteenth state to abandon capital punishment. The legislatures in a
number of other states – including Colorado, Montana, Kansas, New
Hampshire and Maryland – have all debated bills this year that would
replace the death penalty with permanent imprisonment.

The following can be attributed to John Holdridge, Director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project:

 “Gov. Richardson’s decision today to sign the bill abolishing the
death penalty in New Mexico is a historic step and a clear sign that
the United States continues to make significant progress toward
eradicating capital punishment once and for all. Gov. Richardson’s
courageous and enlightened decision should send a powerful message to
other states, governors and Americans about the need to take a hard
look at our error-prone, discriminatory and bankrupting system of
capital punishment. It is a system incapable of ensuring that innocent
lives are not unjustly taken. It is a system plagued by racial,
economic and geographic discrimination. And it is a system that police
chiefs, criminologists and statistical experts around the country agree
does not deter crime. Gov. Richardson deserves enormous credit for
acting in the best interests of the people of his state and the people
of this country.”


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