New Mexico SAFE’ seeks cost-effective, evidence based alternatives to incarceration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2016

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, a group of community organizations from across the political spectrum joined to launch New Mexico SAFE, a new public safety campaign that seeks to fix New Mexico’s broken justice system. NM SAFE will work to reform New Mexico’s criminal justice system and refocus our state’s correctional efforts on cost-effective, evidence based alternatives to incarceration that rehabilitate offenders, keep families intact, and make our communities safer.

“New Mexicans have endured decades of a broken criminal justice system, and it’s time for that to end,” said Adriann Barboa, Field Director for Strong Families New Mexico. “Every year we see politicians propose the same tired and outdated crime laws that fail to deter criminals and do nothing to make our families and children safer. It’s time to stop playing politics with our safety and focus on proven strategies that stop crime before it starts.”

New Mexico SAFE has set a new standard for serious legislation that can break through the gridlock, move New Mexico into the 21st century, and protect future victims from violent crime. For any new proposed crime bill, NM SAFE will ask whether a bill meets four simple standards contained in the S.A.F.E. criteria:

  • Does it make New Mexico SAFER for children and families?

    Tougher penalties do not correlate with a decrease in crime. Serious legislation must prevent tragedies before they happen to make New Mexico safer for children and families.

  • Is it APOLITICAL?

    Too many politicians in New Mexico use tough-on-crime proposals to prop up their political campaigns. Serious legislation must address the problem of crime and public safety, not advance a political agenda.

     

  • Is it FISCALLY-RESPONSIBLE?

    New Mexico has one of the nation’s most devastating budget crises. Any serious legislation must be fiscally responsible.If it doesn’t actually make communities safer, it’s not worth the money.

     

  • Is it EVIDENCE-BASED?

    Finally, serious legislation must be supported by evidence that it actually works. We cannot afford to waste time on bills that have no proven track record of reducing crime or increasing public safety, nor bills whose implementation has shown bias or inequitable treatment.

 

“We need to be smarter about how we administer justice in New Mexico,” said Claudia Benavidez, Program Director at PB&J Family Services. “Our current system wastes enormous amounts of tax dollars and precious law enforcement resources on prosecuting and jailing people for non-violent infractions. There are smart alternatives to incarceration that hold offenders accountable, save taxpayers money, and most importantly prevent future victims from enduring suffering and abuse.”

“In the midst of New Mexico’s budget crisis, it’s important now more than ever to stop throwing good money after bad,” said Allen Sanchez, Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Let’s focus on what we know works: expanding addiction treatment programs, improving mental and behavioral health services, and building better job training programs. This approach gets people the support they need, keeps families together, and makes our society safer and more productive.”

“Marginalized communities in New Mexico are disproportionately impacted by our costly and ineffective criminal justice system,” said Amber Royster, Executive Director for Equality New Mexico. “New Mexico deserves better than the antiquated, overly punitive policies that don’t address serious problems that contribute to crime in our communities. NM SAFE is a critical effort to making New Mexico safe for all children and families.”

Learn more about New Mexico SAFE’s vision for New Mexico and specific policy proposals to fix our broken justice system at www.NMSAFE.org.

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