Ensuring 'We the People' Means All of Us

As we all do our best to protect the health and well-being of family and friends in this unsettling time, the need for a government response guided by public health experts has become more urgent than ever. In this and all times of crisis, it is critical that “We The People” truly means all of us.
 
The ACLU of New Mexico is working across the state to ensure the burdens of the outbreak and the government’s actions do not unfairly fall on our most vulnerable communities. We are also monitoring the government’s responses to ensure they are rooted in science and public health needs, not stigma or bias, and no more intrusive on civil liberties than absolutely necessary.

Important Notice:

ACLU-NM is fighting hard to get vulnerable people released from prisons and jails during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we are not able to individually assist or take legal action on behalf of every incarcerated person who may need it. However, our friends at the Law Offices of the Public Defender created a template motion that incarcerated individuals can file in court pro se to ask for their sentences to be reduced in light of this pandemic. You can send your loved one this petition to fill out, which includes instructions. Use of this petition does not mean that the ACLU are your lawyers or will be able to assist you.

Latest Actions

ACLU Petitions for Release of Medically-Vulnerable Woman From Springer Correctional Center

May 15, 2020 

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Eighth Judicial District Court, seeking the release of Kandyce Jaramillo from Springer Correctional Center. Ms. Jaramillo, who is detained on drug possession, suffers from severe asthma, making her especially vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. The ACLU contends that continuing to confine Ms. Jaramillo constitutes deliberate indifference to the excessive risk of serious harm of COVID-19 and violates her constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

See the full release. 

ACLU Files IPRA Requests For Governor's Knowledge of Potential COVID-19 Outbreaks in Prison and Jails

April 29, 2020 

Today, The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Mexico  filed coordinated public records requests with the Trump administration and with the New Mexico Department of Corrections that seek information on what the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Corrections knew about the potentially catastrophic impacts of COVID-19 on their prisons and the communities surrounding them. 

The ACLU’s records requests follow the release of a  first-of-its-kind epidemiological model that shows that as many as 200,000 people could die from COVID-19 — double the government estimate — if the federal government and states fail to release  people from jails as part of the public health efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

See the full release from our national office here.

ACLU Sues ICE Seeking Release of Immigrants Especially Vulnerable to COVID-19 from New Mexico Detention Center

April 20, 2020

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Mexico sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today on behalf of immigrants detained in Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, New Mexico. The ACLU seeks the release of three individuals who, as a result of underlying medical conditions, are at high risk for serious illness or death in the event of COVID-19 infection. The legal complaint argues that continuing to detain them in civil immigration detention despite serious risk to their health and safety amounts to punishment and violates their due process rights. 

See the full release.

ACLU, Defense Groups File Emergency Lawsuit Urging New Mexico Supreme Court to Protect the Lives of Incarcerated People and Surrounding Communities 

April 14, 2020

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, the New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender (LOPD), and the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (NMCDLA) filed an emergency petition asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to immediately reduce the number of people in New Mexico prisons. Specifically, the petition urges the court to order the immediate release of people who are at an increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19, those who are within a year of release, and those who are held on certain infractions, like parole and probation violations.

See the full release.

Advocates Demand Immediate Action to Address Impending COVID-19 Crisis in New Mexico’s Immigrant Detention Centers 

April 8, 2020

In recent weeks, the ACLU of New Mexico, the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC), and the Santa Fe Dreamers Project (SFDP) sent a series of letters to New Mexico’s federal, state, and county leaders imploring action amid the emerging public health crisis in New Mexico’s three immigration detention centers. The letters addressed the Governor, members of the federal Congressional delegation, county managers, and facility wardens requested that they publicly release site-specific plans to mitigate the fast-moving threat that COVID-19 poses to people detained in New Mexico immigration detention facilities.

See the full release.

ACLU Petitions Court to Release Woman at High Risk of Contracting COVID-19 From Santa Fe County Jail

April 2, 2020

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the First Judicial District Court, demanding the release of a woman held in Santa Fe County Jail on a non-serious probation violation. Yesenia Evans suffers from systemic sclerosis, a rare autoimmune disease that impacts the function of her digestive system, heart, lungs, and kidneys and makes her especially vulnerable to COVID-19. The ACLU’s petition contends that continuing to confine Ms. Evans constitutes deliberate indifference to the excessive risk of serious harm of COVID-19 and violates her constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The petition also contends that continuing to incarcerate Ms. Evans subjects her to atypical and significant hardship that violates her due process rights. 

See the full release.

ACLU-NM Commends San Juan County for Their Response Detailing Measures Taken to Protect People in Custody

March 26, 2020

On March 16, the ACLU of New Mexico received a written response from San Juan County to our March 10 letter urging the New Mexico Association of Counties and jail administrators to immediately develop evidence-based proactive plans for the prevention and management of COVID-19. To date, San Juan County is the only county to respond directly to our letter. We commend the county for their response, detailing the many measures they have taken to protect people in custody, and call on remaining county and state facilities to respond to us with their plans for protecting incarcerated people from COVID-19. 

ACLU-NM Calls on Elected Officials to Protect Access to Reproductive Care

March 23, 2020

Today, the ACLU of New Mexico sent letters to Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham, Mayors Tim Keller, Alan Webber, and Ken Miyagishima, and New Mexico's congressional delegation, urging them to ensure people in New Mexico will be able to access reproductive healthcare as the COVID-19 public health crisis continues to unfold and as elected officials continue to enact emergency powers restricting individual movement and business operations. In the letter, the ACLU of New Mexico advises elected officials to consider abortion care; all forms of birth control; STI screening, testing, and treatment; vaginal health and treatment; prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care as essential reproductive services that must remain accessible at all times. See the letters below.

 

ACLU Files Friend-of-the-Court Brief in Support of Sandoval County's Petition to Reduce Jail Population

March 23, 2020

Today, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Sandoval County attorney’s recent petition to release people charged with or convicted of misdemeanor or non-violent felony crimes from the Sandoval County Detention Center and to decline to book anyone else on those charges during the COVID-19 public health crisis. In the amicus curiae brief, the ACLU argues these measures are  the best way to protect the constitutional rights of incarcerated people and to protect the community at large from the spread of COVID-19. 

 

ACLU-NM Commends Sandoval County Attorney's Petition to Reduce Incarceration, Protect Vulnerable People from COVID-19

March 20, 2020

Yesterday, Sandoval County attorney Robin S. Hammer asked a judge to order its detention center to release all people who are incarcerated for nonviolent and misdemeanor offenses and to decline to book anyone else on those charges.

The following statement can be attributed to Lalita Moskowitz, ACLU of New Mexico staff attorney and Equal Justice Works fellow:

“We are deeply concerned about the people incarcerated in jails and  prisons across our state during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health experts recognize that incarcerated people, who live in close proximity and are often denied adequate hygiene products, are especially vulnerable to infection.”

“We commend Sandoval County attorney Robin S. Hammer for acknowledging that the best possible way to combat the spread of the virus is to reduce the number of people in custody and for taking measures to protect them."

See the full statement.

ACLU-NM Statement on Albuquerque City Council's Decision to Broaden the Mayor's Power During Public Health Emergencies

March 17, 2020

Yesterday, the Albuquerque City Council voted to pass legislation broadening the mayor’s powers during a public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We recognize the very real fear and concern gripping our communities during this uncertain time and appreciate the efforts of elected officials to contain the spread of COVID-19. As we confront this pandemic, some measures, grounded in science and public health, must be taken to protect the health, safety, and civil liberties of us all. While the emergency powers legislation approved last night by the Albuquerque City Council is an understandable reaction to the mounting disease threat, we fear that the Council overreached," said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico.

See the full statement.

ACLU-NM Calls on State's Jails, Prisons, and Detention Centers to Proactively Prepare for COVID-19 Pandemic

March 16, 2020

People incarcerated in prisons, jails, and detention centers are highly vulnerable to outbreaks of contagious illnesses, as are the staff who work in them every day. These facilities must work with public health officials to develop plans to mitigate the risk of coronavirus, and provide soap, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies. 

We have sent letters to the New Mexico Corrections Department; New Mexico Association of Counties; Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham; immigration detention facilities in Otero, Torrance, and Cibola counties; the county managers of Otero, Torrance, and Cibola counties; and our New Mexico congressional representatives asking them to take immediate measures to protect people in government custody.