Bill aims to reduce recidivism by cutting offenders a break

Politics - Government

Lawmakers are looking to reshape the way probation and parole works in New Mexico by cutting criminals some slack if they behave while they’re out. They’re also looking into giving them a break if they get into minor trouble.

Backers of the bill said it’s time New Mexico focuses on improvements for probationers and parolees, instead of looking at jail time for any mistake.

“What we’ve learned is that if we keep good stats and good data on the criminal justice system, we can then make data driven decisions,” said Rep. Antonio Maestas, (D) Albuquerque. “Decisions based on data and science essentially, instead of an impulse or whatnot.”

House Bill 564 is a criminal justice reform idea. It would keep people on probation or parole from immediately going back to jail or prison because they had a small violation, like failing to show up to court or testing positive for drugs. Rep. Maestas said those are the types of reasons 75 percent of parolees go back to jail.

Instead, the bill suggests the probation or parole officers should have the power to dish out other forms of punishment besides jail.

“[The bill] is to modernize our statutes,” said Rep. Maestas. “The best way to fight crime is with strong supervision on those folks on probation and parole…that they’re swift with certain justices and consistency in regards to violations.”

The bill also calls for rewarding people with 30 days unsupervised probation for every 30 days served without a probation violation.

Public defenders believe all of this would save money because they wouldn’t have to constantly run to court hearings for these ‘technical violations.’

It was heard in the House Judiciary Committee, but it wasn’t voted on because committee members wanted some of the bill’s language clarified.

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