Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Death Penalty Ban in New Mexico

So, in New Mexico, there's a death penalty discussion going on.

The fact that the death penalty system is one of the most glaring and most tragic examples of institutionalized racism around wasn't enough to get people talking about getting rid of it. The fact that it reduces reporting of sex crimes by discouraging molestation victims from turning in criminals, and provides an incentive to rapists to kill their victims isn't enough to bother too many folk. No, the problem is that it's expensive!

Many of the costs are built into the system and cannot be changed. They include the costs of specially trained defense lawyers, mental health and mitigation experts, and a longer course of appeals. And there are the many added costs of housing death row prisoners.

"As long as you have a death penalty system, you'll have regular expenses. And those expenses aren't getting cheaper," Dieter said. "There's a maintenance cost to the death penalty."

Death penalty cases can have an outsized effect in smaller counties, which tend to have smaller budgets. There, a case can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars -- close to $1 million if the issues are particularly complicated -- and force officials to cut programs to fund the prosecution.
So... merely having the option of the death penalty is a drain on other programs that aren't oriented toward killing people. But the death penalty is seldom even used! So it's not even good for killing people. So it's a ridiculous and farcical miscarriage of justice at worst, and a waste of money at best.

Sounds great!

The governor of New Mexico is considering whether he's going to sign or veto a death penalty ban that's going to come across his desk. Evidently in previous years he'd have vetoed it flat-out, but now he's looking for an idea of public opinion. There's a poll at The Albuquerque Journal right now, and unfortunately the people who believe Richardson should not sign the ban are winning.

I know that I haven't historically made a big issue out of the death penalty in the past, but this really is important. To recap! Capital punishment is a grossly-racist establishment overall, disproportionately condemning non-whites. Capital punishment doesn't help victims because it doesn't act as a deterrent. What it does do is harm the victims of many crimes of exploitation (such as child rape) for the sake of feeding a need to punish--even at the expense of those victimized. And it's expensive as hell, for a program that doesn't do what it's intended to do (provide a deterrent to violent crime).

It doesn't do what it's supposed to do. Instead it does all this other terrible shit. Encourage Gov. Richardson to sign the death penalty ban in his state. The legislature already passed it, so please tell him not to negate their work. There's some analysis suggesting that Gov. Richardson might listen. Let's just vote to be safe.

Thanks for your time, and hopefully we can get some work done here.


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