ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The families of those killed in some of the area’s most violent crimes are demanding lawmakers make dramatic changes. During the upcoming legislature, they want lawmakers to deliver tougher sentences, putting stricter penalties into law.
“We don’t want their lives to be lost in vain,” said Nicole Chavez. “A lot of different lawmakers are showing interest in these crime bills because they work here in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, and they see that crime is an issue.”
Story continues below
- Entertainment: Concerts coming to New Mexico in 2022
- New Mexico: Tribal community receives millions for wastewater infrastructure
- Crime: Prosecutors say son of man charged in Muslim murders connected to shootings
- Rankings: Cities with the fastest-growing home prices in New Mexico
- Always On: Props from Better Call Saul to be auctioned off
Chavez is the co-founder of Robbed New Mexico, an advocacy group for families who have lost loved ones to violent crimes, often at the hands of repeat offenders. Her son, Jayden, was shot and killed in 2015.
“My son’s murderer is in prison, serving sentences for taking two different lives at two different times,” said Chavez. “If he gets out because he was young when he went in and commits another murder, then most definitely, some people can’t be rehabilitated.”
The advocacy group is working with lawmakers to get at least three bills on the docket. They include bail reform to hold violent criminals behind bars until trial and a harsher penalty for second-degree murder.
“We’re trying to change that sentence from 15 years to 18 years and also get rid of the statute of limitations for that,” said Chavez. “Violent crime is a huge issue and enough is enough so they’re really trying to address this head-on.”
For the sixth year in a row, they’re also trying to get a three-strikes bill passed that would remove the possibility of parole if you kill more than two people. While his office isn’t backing that particular bill, Bernalillo County District Attorney, Raul Torrez, says many of the laws currently in place don’t always give judges the power to keep criminals behind bars.
“That’s why we’re currently losing half of our motions to detain,” said Torrez. “Including more than half of the cases that involve a firearm.”
Robbed NM also plans to fight the proposed “second chance” bill which could allow murderers an automatic parole hearing at 15 years if they were sentenced as a juvenile. With the 30-day legislative session just a week away, the group is working on how best to make their voices heard as the bills make it to committees and lawmakers — hoping this is the year changes are made.
“Enough is enough. We can’t ignore it anymore,” said Chavez. “Criminals need to be held accountable.”
The 30-day session begins next Tuesday on Jan. 18 and runs until mid-February. Chavez says advocates will be at the Roundhouse for opening day.