New Mexico

General Information


Death Penalty: No
Date of Reinstatement (following Furman v. Georgia): July 1, 1979
Date of Abolition: March 18, 2009
Location of Death Row/Executions: New Mexico's two death row inmates are held in separate facilities. The execution chamber is located in Santa Fe.

Capital: Santa Fe
Population: 2,059,179
Governor: Michelle Lujan Grisham
Legislative Information: Senate and House of Representatives


Death Sentences 1977-2015
Death Row Exonerations

DPIC's State Database for information on executions, death row population and other statistics in New Mexico
History of the Death Penalty

View of the Sandia Mountains from Bernalillo.  Photo by Viki Elkey.

History of the Death Penalty

Famous cases

Santa Rosa prison riots: Ralph Garcia, a correctional officer, was killed during a prison riot in 1999. Thirteen men were charged in the murder, but eleven of those cases were resolved through plea deals. Robert Young and Reis Lopez were charged with capital murder, but the New Mexico Supreme Court suspended proceedings because the state has not provided sufficient funds for their defense. The cases continued when prosecutors stopped seeking the death penalty. Lopez pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 29 years in prison. Young was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Notable Exonerations

The Vagos Bikers case: Four men were arrested and charged in 1974 for the kidnapping, murder and rape of a University of New Mexico student, William Velten. They were released in 1975 after the real murderer confessed.

Milestones in abolition/reinstatement

In 1986, Governor Toney Anaya commuted the death sentences of all five men on New Mexico's death row.

In 2009, New Mexico became the 15th state to abolish the death penalty.

New Mexico's "firsts"

New Mexico has excluded juveniles from execution since 1975, making it one of the first states to do so.

Other interesting facts

New Mexico was the last state to adopt a sentence of life without parole, in 2009.

Although the death penalty was abolished in 2009, there are still two men on New Mexico's death row. These two men could be executed in a state that has abolished capital punishment.


New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty

Department of Corrections

New Mexico District Attorneys Association

Public defender's office

Victims' services


 More State Pages | DPIC's State Database | Suggest Information for this State Page

Many thanks to the New Mexico Murder Victim Family Advocacy Project for contributing to this page.