Death penalty repeal has favorable callers

By Steve Terrell: The Santa Fe New Mexican

People who have contacted the New Mexico Governor’s Office about the death penalty since Friday have supported repealing capital punishment by better than a 3-to-1 margin, according to a statement from the governor’s office on Tuesday.

Gov. Bill Richardson has until midnight today to act on a bill that would repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life-in-prison without parole.

If he signs it, New Mexico would become one of 15 states where laws no longer provide for executions.

After the Legislature passed House Bill 285, Richardson set up a telephone hotline and also asked New Mexicans to e-mail him with their thoughts on the death penalty.

According to spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, Richardson as of Tuesday had heard from a total of 9,413 people, including those who came personally to his office at the Capitol. Of those, 7,169 wanted him to sign the bill, while 2,244 wanted a veto.

“The vast majority are from New Mexico,” Gallegos said when asked about the respondents.