ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico expressed frustration with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s vetoes of Probation and Parole Reform (SB 84) and Certain Drug Possession and Habitual Offenders (SB 187) – two critical pieces of legislation aimed at reducing the over-incarceration of New Mexicans.
SB 84 would have strictly limited re-incarceration for technical violations such as missing appointments or failed drug tests while someone is on probation or parole. SB 187 would have ensured that simple drug possession would not be used to calculate increases in prison time for people who had been convicted of felonies.
Probation and parole violations for noncriminal offenses are a huge driver of incarceration in New Mexico. According to the Legislative Finance Committee Corrections Department Performance Report Card, approximately 35 percent of people admitted to the New Mexico Corrections Department in 2022 were incarcerated for technical parole violations. According to SB 84’s Fiscal Impact Report, individuals reincarcerated for parole violations spend an average of 415 days in custody.
The following can be attributed to ACLU-NM Director of Public Policy Nayomi Valdez.
"We are deeply disappointed by the governor’s veto of these much-needed reforms to our criminal-legal system. The legislation that passed would have greatly reduced the senseless incarceration of people for minor technical violations and failed drug tests and helped thousands of people get their lives back on track. Instead, for the second time, the governor chose to go against the will of New Mexicans and their elected legislators and kill these reforms.
The data is clear that incarcerating people for technical violations and failed drug tests does not make us any safer or help the people who are locked up. People who can’t make it to appointments or grapple with substance abuse need assistance and treatment. The millions of dollars wasted on incarcerating them could be invested in addressing the underlying causes of crime – substance use disorders and behavioral health issues. Needlessly incarcerating people only harms them and their families further and fails to make any of us safer.
Simply put, this administration has it wrong on crime and safety. Until the executive branch starts making decisions about our criminal-legal system based on the facts and in alignment with our values, New Mexico will continue to trap people in the same vicious cycle of incarceration without making our state any safer."