Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The numbers on New Mexico's death penalty

In the wake of Bill Richardson signing the bill to abolish New Mexico's death penalty comes a study from attorney Marcia Wilson published in the New Mexico Law Review, "The Application of the Death Penalty in New Mexico, July 1979 through December 2007: An Empirical Analysis." Thanks to the Death Penalty Info Center for the link.

Some interesting numbers that show that, though Governor Richardon's stroke of the pen was unquestionably a moral victory, the simple fact was that New Mexico wasn't a particularly death-happy state like, say, Texas or Virginia:

Since 1979, in New Mexico:

  • 211 death penalty cases filed
  • 203 were resolved by the end of 2007
  • 9 cases were dismissed before trial
  • 47.8% of the resolved cases ended with a plea bargain and a sentence less than death
  • 46.9% of the resolved cases went to trial
  • 25% of the resolved cases had a penalty trial
  • 15 people were sentened to death
  • 2 defendants remained on death row still challenging their death sentence
  • 1 defendant was executed (after dropping his appeals).

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