The Champion

June 2009 , Page 42 

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Taking Death Off The Table In The Land Of Enchantment: Lessons On Repeal From The Legal And Grassroots Communities

By Shari Allison, Cathy Ansheles

On April 15, 2009, the Roman Coliseum lit up in honor of New Mexico’s repeal of the death penalty. The event was an overwhelming culmination to the long fight by a broad-based, grassroots coalition of activists, some of whom attended the event with tears in their eyes. After trying for more than a decade, the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty (NM Repeal)1 succeeded in March when Gov. Bill Richardson signed the legislation to replace the state’s death penalty with a maximum penalty of life without parole.

A 12-Year Journey

Advocates for repealing capital punishment raise many arguments: it is racially and economically discriminatory; the process has condemned the innocent; and execution is falsely labeled as a deterrent to committing murder and a source of healing for victims’ families. However, as states increasingly grapple with balancing their budgets, the tipping point for many legislators may be that capital punishment is expensive. New Mexico repeal activists began th

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