ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico announced that it successfully petitioned the First Judicial District Court to release Yesenia Evans, who was held on a non-serious probation violation and suffers from a rare autoimmune disease, from the Santa Fe County Jail. Ms. Evans’ release follows a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by the ACLU and an emergency motion for expedited release filed by the Law Office of the Public Defenders on her behalf.
“Ms. Evans has been living in very real fear for her life,” said Lalita Moskowitz, ACLU of New Mexico staff attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow. “People involved in the criminal legal system already face heightened risk of COVID-19 infection and the risks are even greater for people with compromised immune systems. We’re relieved that Ms. Evans will now be home with her family where she can better protect herself.”
In its petition, the ACLU argued that continuing to detain Ms. Evans despite her heightened vulnerability to COVID-19 constituted deliberate indifference to the excessive risk of serious harm and violated her constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU also argued that continuing to incarcerate Ms. Evans subjected her to atypical and significant hardship that violated her due process rights. The Santa Fe District Attorney's Office and Santa Fe County Attorney concurred with the ACLU and New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defenders’ pleas for release, citing the non-violent nature of Ms. Evans’ conviction and her autoimmune disease.
“We hope to secure the release of more people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 from jails and prisons in the near future,” said Moskowitz. “If we don’t immediately reduce the footprint of our criminal legal system, incarcerated people, correctional employees, and nearby communities, will all bear the consequences as the virus spread throughout facilities and beyond.”
A copy of the stipulated order mandating Ms. Evans’ release is available below.