Republican Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico said she wants to reinstate the death penalty in her state for people convicted of killing law enforcement officers or children after a 33-year-old police officer was killed during a traffic stop.
Officer Jose Chavez died after being gunned down Aug. 12 in Hatch, New Mexico, and three men were taken into custody for the murder, reported the Las Cruces News. Martinez wants those who are convicted of killing police officers to be executed.
“A society that fails to adequately protect and defend those who protect all of us is a society that will be undone and unsafe,” Martinez said in a statement, reports Albuquerque Journal. “People need to ask themselves, if the man who ambushed and killed five police officers in Dallas had lived, would he deserve the ultimate penalty? How about the heartless violent criminals who killed Officer Jose Chavez in Hatch and left his children without their brave and selfless dad? Do they deserve the ultimate penalty? Absolutely.”
This isn't the first time Martinez, a former prosecutor, has tried to reinstate the death penalty in New Mexico, where it has been abolished since 2009 under then-Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, according to DeathPenalty.info.
Shortly after taking office in 2011, Martinez attempted to reinstate the death penalty, an attempt that was eventually blocked by the Democratic legislature.
Things could turn out differently this time. Republicans have more seats than Democrats in the State House of Representatives, 37 to 32. Democrats still outnumber Republicans in the State Senate, 24 to 17.
Although violence toward police is at one of the lowest levels it has ever been, according to The Washington Post, there is also a lot of emotion towards police officers getting attacked, such as the situation in Dallas, which Martinez mentioned, where five police officers were gunned down. This could result in legislators voting in a way they normally wouldn't.
However the state politicians vote, Martinez is expected to face stiff opposition from activists and organizations opposed to the death penalty.
Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Albuquerque Journal that Martinez will have to fight the Roman Catholic Church if she wants to bring back the death penalty.
“We’ve been through this debate,” Sanchez said. “As sad as [recent police shootings have been], we believe the governor is just trying to create a distraction from what’s going on in New Mexico with poverty and need.”