The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50% and to combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
New Mexico’s criminal justice landscape is unique. In some ways the state has been forward-thinking on criminal justice. For example, New Mexico was an early adopter of death penalty abolition, and, in 2017, our legislature passed major statewide solitary confinement reform. Our electorate voted overwhelmingly to abolish money bail when financial ability prevented release. And our largest court system has adopted the Arnold Foundation’s pre-trial risk assessment tool.
Yet, despite these progressive steps forward, in other ways New Mexico is dangerously behind the times. We overuse and abuse solitary confinement. The jail population is abnormally high. Our prison population is rising quickly. Too many children have incarcerated parents. New Mexico law does not provide for expungement or sealing of criminal records. And we often keep people incarcerated well past their parole dates.
Imprisonment is a brutal and costly response to crime that traumatizes incarcerated people and hurts families and communities. It should be the last option, not the first. To usher in a new era of justice in our state, we're partnering with community-serving organizations, formerly incarcerated people, and survivors of crime to move away from failed tough on crime policies of the past and toward solutions that invest in our families and the future of New Mexico.