National Organization Encourages Governor Lujan Grisham to Sign Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Legislation
The Justice Action Network, the largest bipartisan organization working to reform the justice system at the state and federal levels, today urged New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to sign bipartisan legislation that would reform and improve the state’s criminal justice system.
The state legislature passed a number of positive criminal justice reform bills during the state’s 60-day legislative session that ended Saturday, including House Bills 312, 342, 370, and 564, and Senate Bill 385.
“While other states are seeing falling crime and recidivism rates, New Mexico has been going in the opposite direction. The legislature passed bold reforms with strong bipartisan majorities that will help course correct the state justice system,” Jenna Moll, deputy director for Justice Action Network, said. “This package of legislation focuses resources on evidenced-based tactics that will help end the prison system’s revolving door, increase support for crime victims, save taxpayer dollars, and improve public safety. We strongly urge Governor Lujan Grisham to sign these bipartisan bills into law so that New Mexico can reduce crime and see improved return on investment in its justice system.”
House Bill 312 was sponsored by Representative Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos) and Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque). If signed by Governor Lujan Grisham, it would align forfeiture practices across New Mexico by ensuring that the changes that were enacted with the Forfeiture Act of 2015 apply to municipalities, so that forfeitures under local ordinances mirror the standards and requirements under state law. The bill also clears up confusion around the storage of forfeited items and abandoned or unclaimed property. HB 312 passed the House 6-15 and the Senate unanimously.
House Bill 342 was sponsored by Representatives Moe Maestas (D-Albuquerque), Gail Chasey (D-Albuqeruque) and Senators Richard Martinez (D-Española) and Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque). If signed by Governor Lujan Grisham, it will expand access to behavioral health services for incarcerated individuals, increase eligibility for pre-prosecution diversion programs, and require the Sentencing Commission to provide fiscal impact statements for bills that create new crimes or repeal existing ones. HB 342 passed both the House and Senate unanimously.
House Bill 370 was sponsored by Representatives Maestas and Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe), and Senator Bill O’Neill (D-Albuquerque). If signed by Governor Lujan Grisham, it will allow New Mexicans to petition a district court to have their arrest or criminal records expunged after they have met certain conditions, lifting a potential barrier to employment. HB 370 passed the House 52-17 and the Senate 28-13.
House Bill 564 was also sponsored by Representatives Maestas and Chasey and Senator Rue. If signed by Governor Lujan Grisham, the legislation will target probation and parole resources to individuals rather than the current “one-size-fits-all” model, and tailor their supervision plans accordingly. It will also encourage compliance by probationers and implement graduated sanctions for technical violations. HB 564 passed the House 51-16 and the Senate 26-6.
Finally, Senate Bill 385 was sponsored by Senator Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque), Senator O’Neill, and Representative Romero. If signed by Governor Lujan Grisham, it will limit the use of unrelated and years-old criminal records for consideration in occupational licensing decisions. This would prevent people who have been involved with the justice system from being unnecessarily locked out of employment. Unemployment is a leading cause of recidivism and about one-in-five New Mexicans needs an occupational license to work in their profession. SB 385 passed the House unanimously and the Senate with only two dissenting votes.
The Justice Action Network is the largest 501(c)(4) organization in the country devoted to bipartisan cooperation in the criminal justice reform space. From state houses to the White House, Justice Action Network’s partners from the right to the left have paved the way for life-changing criminal justice reforms, including the recently-passed First Step Act, sentencing reform, prison reform, and so much more. For more information on their work, visit www.justiceactionnetwork.org.