Termed-out New Mexico governor is picky with pardons
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — With less than a month left in office, termed-out Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has pardoned a total of just three people in a state with a robust history of forgiveness by governors.
The governor’s office confirmed that Martinez issued three pardons in 2012 and no others. She did not respond to a request for comment on her approach to pardon applications.
A former district attorney and proponent of reinstituting the death penalty in New Mexico, Martinez has added restrictions on pardons that rule out candidates convicted of sexual offenses and multiple drunken driving violations.
The governor’s office indicated that it does not keep a list of pardon applicants and denials, or track overall numbers. It did not immediately provide access to pardon applications.
Martinez has denied at least 72 pardon applications, including 13 in which the state Parole Board recommended approval, according to records provided by the board on Friday.
Martinez’s two immediate predecessors each pardoned scores of people for a variety of convictions.
Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson famously dabbled with a posthumous pardon of the 19th century outlaw known as Billy the Kid in the killing of a sheriff that was ultimately denied, while he did commute the life sentence of a woman who killed her allegedly abusive husband.
Former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, an early proponent of legalizing marijuana who later ran for president as a Libertarian, commuted a sentence in 2002 for a woman who was convicted of stealing a small amount of money apparently because of addiction.
She was sexually assaulted by prison guards, and Johnson expressed outrage that the guards received lesser sentences than the woman did for her nonviolent crime.
In New Mexico, the power to pardon resides solely with the governor. A pardon restores citizenship rights such as the ability to vote and run for public office. It does not expunge public records.
The Restoration of Rights Project currently lists New Mexico among states where pardons are infrequent or uneven, alongside states including Louisiana, New York and Hawaii.
Democratic Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham takes office Jan. 1 after defeating Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce.
In 1986, Democratic Gov. Toney Anaya commuted the death sentences of five men awaiting execution in a move to thwart his elected Republican successor.
The governor-elect at the time, Garrey Carruthers, had promised to quicken the pace of the executions.
New Mexico repealed and replaced capital punishment in 2009 with mandatory lifetime sentencing.