Today, The New Mexico Supreme Court issued a ruling in a petition filed by the ACLU of New Mexico, the New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender, and the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association asking the court to order the 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 non-serious offenses, like parole and probation violations.
Lalita Moskowitz, ACLU of New Mexico staff attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow, issued the following statement in response:
“This is a devastating decision for incarcerated people, their families, and our communities at large. Through this petition, we sought to prevent the suffering and death that we are already witnessing — and that public health experts warned would happen — at our nation’s detention facilities across the country.”
“The global health crisis has laid bare the human cost of our country’s obsession with mass incarceration. A system that already tears families apart and fuels racial injustice, has now become an even more urgent threat to public health.”
“While we are deeply disappointed by the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision, we can still act to prevent a humanitarian crisis from unfolding in our state. The governor and the New Mexico Corrections Department have the power to conduct widespread testing in New Mexico prisons and to release people who pose no threat to public safety from prisons. They should exercise that power now, rather than waiting until disaster strikes.”