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.
The legal groups argue immediate action is necessary to avoid an institutional outbreak that would spread to surrounding communities resulting in unnecessary burdens on health infrastructure, likely deaths, and certain constitutional violations based on cruel and unusual punishment.
At least 13 other state court systems—in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Utah, Ohio, South Carolina, Michigan, Hawaii, Washington, and the District of Columbia—have already taken steps to limit incarceration during this crisis. The ACLU, LOPD, and NMCDLA urge New Mexico to follow suit and take swift and decisive action to reduce the number of people in jails and prisons.