Albuquerque Republican State Representative Monica Youngblood once again will be sponsoring legislation to reinstate the death penalty in New Mexico in the upcoming 2018 New Mexico legislative session that will bring back the death penalty for the killing of a law enforcement officer and the murder of children.
(See August 5, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page C2, “NM Conservatives push for death penalty law; Bill would bring back capital punishment for killers of cops, children”.)
Recent killings of children, attacks on law enforcement officers and rising crime in Albuquerque and the state have conservative state lawmakers calling for New Mexico to reinstate the death penalty.
New Mexico State Representative Monica Youngblood stated “I think it would be a deterrent. I mean, look what’s going on in Albuquerque. … This would be a narrow reinstatement focusing on those who kill law enforcement and children.”
Democrat State Representative Gail Chasey said the focus should be on stopping crime before it happens in the first place by saying “By providing law enforcement with what they need address crime in our city, and addressing root causes, we would not only honor those lost in senseless tragedies but would also increase public safety.”
Governor Martinez and the Albuquerque Journal have repeatedly supported the death penalty be reinstated.
Proposing to reinstate the death penalty is political pandering and grandstanding at its worse done to “gin-up” the hostility of victims of crime and the general public who are seeking and demanding justice.
We are supposed to be a civilized society.
The death penalty is nothing more than an “eye for an eye” approach to criminal justice and it does not deter crime.
The trend nationally is that states are abolishing the death penalty.
Many people on death row being released for crimes they did not commit because of scientific evidence.
There is no mention of how the legislature will pay for the millions it is going to cost reinstating the death penalty and the mandatory appeal process that take years.
There is no mention of any increase the budgets of the Judiciary, District Attorney offices, Public Defenders Office and the prison system to get the job done.
The death penalty is simply not good enough to render justice upon violent criminals who murder any police officer in the line of duty.
There are times the death penalty is simply not good enough to render justice upon violent, immoral people who commit crimes against the most innocent, defenseless and helpless people, especially children, in our so called civilized society.
I believe this to be true about the death penalty for those people who commit heinous crimes against their own defenseless children of tender years.
The drugging, raping, murder, dismemberment and the burning of the body of 9-year-old Victoria Martens by her mother, her boyfriend and two others is one such crime.
Even life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is not enough for some violent crimes such as murder of a child, but justice is what needs to be sought by a civilized society, not vengeance by imposing the death penalty.
Thirty-five years ago, I did a grand jury investigation of the mishandling of child abuse cases by a state agency, and to this day I can recall too many details of those crimes and the people I prosecuted.
Since 2001, in New Mexico, no less than 22 children, ranging from ages of 5 weeks old to 3, 4, 5 months old to 3, 4, 5, and 11 years old, have been killed because of child physical and sexual abuse. (Re: August 31, 2016 Albuquerque Journal Editorial Guest column by Allen Sanchez.)
Study after study has shown that children from lower economic homes have a higher risk to suffer severe physical abuse and sexual abuse from their parents.
Cool heads must prevail and ensure swift justice is bought upon those who kill innocent children and police officers.
Our criminal justice system presumes innocence until proven guilty and demands due process of law, even for the most heinous of crimes, and not an “eye for an eye” approach to criminal justice reflected by the death penalty.
Even more important, Albuquerque and New Mexico must find solutions to what contributed to or caused the most horrific crimes: domestic violence, substance and drug abuse, children living in severe poverty, a poor education system, the breakdown of the family unit, the failures of our social services and child protective services, a failed mental health system, an ineffective criminal justice system, a failing economy.
We need to confront our demons and find solutions to the problems that cause crime.
“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”