"Why do we kill people who have killed other people? To tell other people that killing is wrong?" - Norman Mailer
Equality New Mexico - the state's LGBTQ advocacy and civil rights organization - opposes the death penalty and any efforts to reinstate it in New Mexico.
The death penalty is a costly and unjust system, and its enforcement has not proven to deter crime or lower homicide rates. This reality is why New Mexicans successfully advocated for the state legislature to repeal the death penalty in 2009, making New Mexico the 15th state in the country to do so. As of today, 20 states in country do not have a death penalty.
During the repeal effort, nearly two-thirds of New Mexicans supported life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty. This repeal has not only saved our state millions of dollars each year, but it has also eliminated the risk of wrongful execution that New Mexico faced when, in 1974, four innocent men were sentenced to death based on false witness testimony and police misconduct.
These are enough reasons to not reinstate the death penalty.
EQNM is committed to restorative and transformative justice practices that treat offenses and ruptures in the community as opportunities to educate, to create accountability that shifts behavior and thinking, and to invest in rehabilitation services and programs that have proven to be more just and effective. Supporting state-sanctioned retribution* mentality goes against this commitment, and perpetuates a criminal justice system already afflicted* with police violence, judicial corruption, and inhumane treatment.
This effort to reinstate the death penalty is nothing more than a political ploy to distract New Mexicans from much more critical issues like the state's nearly $500 million budget deficit, our failing education system, and having the highest child poverty rate in the country. Furthermore, it is an offense that this issue has come up in the wake of two police officers being killed on duty, while for decades New Mexicans have fought against the violence and unconstitutional practices of one of the deadliest police forces in the country - the Albuquerque Police Department.
The needs, wants, and vibrancy of our community compel us to challenge structural and individual barriers that limit our self-determination and ability to thrive, and the death penalty is a structural barrier against which we will steadfastly fight and organize.
We encourage LGBTQ New Mexicans, our co-conspirators, comrades, and allies, and the community at large to contact their legislators to say 'NO' to the death penalty in New Mexico. Click here to send a message today.
*We realized as an organization invested in practicing anti-ableism and committed to LGBTQ justice that we wanted to replace the "eye for an eye" and "plagued" language from this post. We are practicing how to avoid using illness or disability as metaphors that perpetuate the association of disability and illness with all things horrible, destructive or less than. Thank you all for your patience, support, and understanding of our process as we learn to stretch and grow, practicing how to implement anti-ableism and disability justice into EQNM's work.