Following a recent spate of police killings across the country, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is calling on restoring the state’s death penalty – particularly for child-killers and those who murder law enforcement.
In a statement released Wednesday, the two-term Republican governor told the Albuquerque Journal, “A society that fails to adequately protect and defend those who protect all of us is a society that will be undone and unsafe.
“People need to ask themselves, if the man who ambushed and killed five police officers in Dallas had lived, would he deserve the ultimate penalty? How about the heartless violent criminals who killed (New Mexico) Officer Jose Chavez in Hatch and left his children without their brave and selfless dad? Do they deserve the ultimate penalty? Absolutely.”
Martinez has backed legislation to re-impose capital punishment since taking office in 2011, but the Democratic-controlled Legislature has stalled it.
Nineteen states, including New Mexico, currently do not have death penalty laws on the books, and, according to the national Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland and Nebraska have abolished it all together.
A growing number of conservative Latino religious groups are beginning to shift their position on capital punishment, due in large part to a belief among them that it disproportionately affects minorities.
Martinez’s announcement comes after the killing of New Mexico Police Officer Jose Chavez.
Chavez was killed after pulling over Ohio fugitive Jess Hanes, who has been charged with murder. Hanes also faces federal charges of possession of firearms. He and an accomplice were traveling across the country on a crime spree that included bank robberies and selling Methamphetamine.
“My priority is prosecuting the death of Officer Chavez, but I’m open to conversations about reinstating the death penalty,” Third Judicial District Attorney Mark D’Antonio said in a statement. “The death penalty should be the last resort for the worst of the worst and in certain situations like for cop-killers.”
New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009, when then Gov. Bill Richardson signed legislation that replaced it with a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.