THE SO-CALLED “second chance” concept is ill-conceived and ill-advised. It is primarily based on the false assumption that young offenders are not mature enough or sufficiently socialized to understand the gravity of murder or its consequences and that they are unlikely to commit subsequent murders.
In the first place there is an elaborate juvenile justice system in place to assess these factors already. Secondly, it is a rare occasion when someone commits a second murder — witness the dearth of such offenders under our three-strikes statute.
Thirdly, it is at least arguably a violation of Article IV, Sec. 33, of the New Mexico Constitution. Additionally, as clemency and commutation are the sole province of the executive, it could be viewed as a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers if enacted and applied retroactively to previous convictions.
Michael Brown and his confederates were afforded the whole palette of legal safeguards against a miscarriage of justice before being convicted and sentenced. See State v. Brown, 1997-NMSC-029. Mr. and Mrs. Brown were executed by them for no reason and with no trial. This was a particularly brutal and shocking crime. It was in every sense a Manson-style thrill kill.
In my 36 years as a prosecutor I saw many senseless and brutal crimes. This was certainly one of them, if not the most. The brutality was accurately described in the recent op-ed piece by Patrick McNertney published in the Sunday Journal, (Jan. 22).
Citizens should be urged to contact their legislators and ask them to vote “no” on any such “second-chance” scheme.