SANTA FE, N.M. — Religious leaders in New Mexico are slamming the governor and House Republicans for voting to reinstate the death penalty during an all-night special session, leaving little opportunity for a debate.
While the efforts were made futile after the Senate refused to consider the bill, the condemnation is indicative of the conflict the issue is sure to draw when the Legislation reconvenes in January, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported (http://bit.ly/2cXlVqM ).
Gov. Susana Martinez and Republican allies in the House used the special session to seek stricter criminal sentencing in response to the recent killing of two police officers and the August sexual assault, killing and mutilation of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in Albuquerque. Opponents of the crime initiatives say they are being rushed through a special session without sufficient public debate, criticizing the timing of final House deliberations on the death penalty that began after midnight on Thursday and culminated in a pre-dawn vote.
The House voted 36-30 in favor of the bill to restore death by lethal injection as a punishment for convicted killers of police, children and corrections officers. The Senate adjourned Thursday without discussing the measure, after quickly signing off on House budget amendments.
New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009. Three sitting House Republicans who voted to end capital punishment then reversed themselves Thursday.
At a news conference Thursday, Santa Fe Archbishop John C. Wester called the move to reinstate the death penalty overnight “offensive.”
“I find it blasphemous that the state wants to take a human life,” Wester said.
Martinez argues that the death penalty will serve as a deterrent to crime and provide proper punishment to criminals who prey on children and police officers
Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld of Congregation Albert in Albuquerque says the death penalty issue would have been more suited for a regular legislative session, rather than the all-night special session. He called the House Republicans’ effort “a totally political move . that is in and of itself unethical.”
The Rev. Michael L. Vono, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, said Martinez and Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, who co-sponsored the bill, “lack moral and ethical leadership and should be ashamed of themselves. . One can only hope and pray that the upcoming elections will provide us with more responsible leaders in this state.”
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com