Should People Who Murder Police Officers Automatically Get The Death Penalty?

As the debate rages at the Roundhouse and around New Mexico after recent killings rocked the state, a new Journal Poll has found that nearly two-thirds of likely state voters support reinstating the death penalty for certain violent crimes.

Sixty-five percent of likely voters said they would favor reinstating the death penalty for individuals convicted of killing children, police officers or corrections officers, while 28 percent of voters said they would oppose doing so. The rest of those surveyed either had mixed feelings or wouldn’t say.

The debate over the controversial punishment has reignited in recent weeks after the death of 10-year-old Victoria Martens of Albuquerque, who police say was drugged, raped and killed, and the killings of police officers in Hatch and Alamogordo. Police officers were also shot and killed last year in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced last month that she would add reinstatement of the death penalty to the agenda of an ongoing special legislative session, along with two other crime-related proposals.

The two-term Republican governor, a former prosecutor, said cop killers and child murderers deserve the ultimate punishment.

“It’s time we say enough is enough,” Martinez said.

However, opponents of the death penalty have criticized the governor for adding the issue to the special session mix, with Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester blasting the proposal as a politically motivated “red herring” aimed at distracting lawmakers from a precipitous state revenue downturn.

The Journal Poll asked voters whether they would support or oppose reinstating the death penalty for individuals convicted of killing children, police officers or correctional officers, essentially the proposal being pushed by Gov. Martinez.

Registered Republicans were more likely than Democrats to support reinstatement, but a majority of Democratic voters surveyed – 54 percent – also said they favored the proposal, the Journal Poll found.

Meanwhile, about two-thirds of independent voters surveyed – 68 percent – said they would support bringing back the death penalty, while 29 percent of voters in the growing bloc of independent voters said they oppose the proposal.

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