Gov. Bill Richardson's decision Wednesday (March 18) to repeal New Mexico's death penalty and replace it with a maximum sentence of life without parole is being hailed by supporters as a major victory in the decades-old debate over state-sanctioned executions.
But the decision—which follows New Jersey's repeal in 2007 and brings to 15 the number of states that do not execute inmates—also underscores the nuanced modern landscape of capital punishment.
While a growing number of states are seriously considering eliminating the death penalty—whether for moral, fiscal or political reasons—others are trying to reinstate or expand it. At the same time, the United States is on track to put more inmates to death this year than in any year since 1999.
Recent political developments have highlighted the complex and highly regional approaches to the death penalty.
Read the full report Death Penalty Rift in States Continues on Stateline.org.