Why did Gov. Richardson repeal the death penalty? His legacy.
Dudley Sharp

“(Richardson) admitted his legacy factored into his calculus.”(1) The evidence is that is was “the” factor.


“(Richardson) acknowledged that he hoped his administration would be remembered for ‘doing the right thing, making decisions on matters of conscience.’ ” (1)


How did he do the right thing in a matter of conscience?


In a wealth of understatement, Gov. Richardson admits that some of the anti death penalty arguments he used may not be true: “I am not totally, totally convinced that every argument that I have just said to you is accurate,” he said.” (1)

In fact, none of it was true (2).


The “fact” reasons he gave for ending the death penalty were and are easily contradicted. The governor had all the evidence necessary to show that, further enforcing that the repeal was all about the governor. (2)


In a matter of judgement that he called the “most difficult decision in my political life.”(3),  one would hope that he had both the character and conscience to thoroughly vet all of the arguments.

Here, he admits that he did not.

He concludes that that  arguments he used may not be true: he is admitting to being irresponsible and/or knowingly misinformed in making “the most difficult decision of his political life”.


But, why?


Gov. Richardson had seen his hopes for more national and international prominence go down in flames, with regard to the Commerce Secretary nomination debacle.  Gov. Richardson may not have been fully up-front with the Obama administration, regarding a corruption investigation in New Mexico. Richardson withdrew his nomination.


The Governor and close cronies are in the eye of the storm, regarding the FBI investigation  into the awarding of state contracts to political donors (3).


Hypocritically, when speaking of that ongoing investigation, Richardson states: “I have faith in the criminal justice process, and we must allow it to run its course.” (3)


Of course, he used the opposite reasoning to get rid of the death penalty in his state.

It was difficult not to see some similarities between Richardson and Gov. Ryan of Illinois, who had to empty death row, as his only other possible remaining legacy, in light of pending indictments.

The investigation ended with no indictment of Governor Richardson.


“Richardson said he has long believed — and still does — that the death penalty was a “just punishment” in rare cases for the worst crimes.”

He added, “. . . from a foreign policy perspective, the death penalty ‘did not seem to me to be good moral leadership and good foreign policy.’ ” (4)


It is impossible to reconcile the Governor’s current, unchanged belief, that the death penalty is a “just punishment” but his getting rid of it is a sign of “moral leadership”.

One does not show moral leadership or responsible policy choices by ending  justice.  Yet. Richardson admits that he did just that.


Justice would have been a much more honorable legacy.


The Icon


Incarcerated felon, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan dishonestly, emptied that state’s death row, prior to leaving office and prior to his trial.


Governors, prosecutors and victim’s rights groups, among others, condemned his actions.


Did Ryan care? Of course not. He was politically dead in the US and, very likely, soon to be incarcerated – which he was.


Ryan is considered a hero by murderers and others opposed to the death penalty. Because of his action, in sparing incredibly depraved murderers, Ryan has been nominated, repeatedly, for a Nobel Peace Prize.


That is a much better deal than fading into history as just another disgraced, corrupt and penniless politician, whose actions resulted in innocent deaths and making Illinois a more dangerous place.


Legacy. Indeed.


copyright 2009 Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com

Houston, Texas
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally

(1) “Bill Richardson admits doubt about death-penalty decision”, Trip Jennings, The New Mexico Independent, 3/19/09.


(2) Rebuttal to Governor Richardson – Repeal of the Death Penalty in New Mexico

FOOTNOTE:  “Death penalty repeal arguments are false”


In a message dated 3/17/2009 4:37:39 P.M. Central Daylight Time, Sharpjfa writes:

To: Governor Richardson, staff and cabinet and 
      Corrections Department and Police Agencies and media throughout New Mexico

(3) “Richardson Scandal Simmered in New Mexico”, Trip Jennings, The Washington Independent, 1/6/09 12:34 PM


(4) “New Mexico governor abolishes capital punishment”, by Deborah Baker, Associated Press, March 19, 2009; 12:27 PM

10 thoughts on “Why did Gov. Richardson repeal the death penalty? His legacy.

  • April 5, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    In all honesty, I care none about the reasons Governor Richardson signed the bill repealing New Mexico’s death penalty. The death penalty is a barbaric penalty that should be used only when there is no other way to ensure the greater society’s safety. In today’s society, therefore, it should be abolished.

  • September 30, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Have you ever had anyone close to you murdered?

  • October 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    My daughter’s murder was barbaric. Her murderer should never see the light of day again!

  • October 11, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    The murderers didn’t care that what they were doing was barbaric. Why should we care what is done barbarically to them? I am sorry for your unfortunate loss.

  • October 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I am very sorry for your loss.

  • April 27, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    There are a few questions on your site.
    How can I contact the administration?

  • September 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    The reason Bill Richardson signed the Bill was for votes. Plain and Simple. My little cousin died last month and I believe one reason is because the guy knew there would be no consequence. Todays society needs the death penalty when more and more violent criminals hitting our streets.


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