ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Rep. Nate Gentry (R-Albuquerque) and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque) will hold a press conference on Tuesday, January 9 at 9:30 A.M. to discuss a trio of bipartisan bills designed to reduce crime in New Mexico. The press conference will take place in front of the New Mexico 2nd Judicial District Courthouse in Albuquerque on 400 Lomas NW.
Rep. Gentry and Sen. Ivey-Soto are cosponsoring three bills to address New Mexico’s skyrocketing crime rates. The bills would fix pre-trial release standards to allow judges to keep dangerous criminals behind bars while they await trial and direct correctional facilities to enroll eligible inmates into Medicaid so they can get the drug and mental health treatment they need. Gentry and Ivey-Soto are also offering a proposal to provide $15,000 retention bonuses for law enforcement officers who have at least 20 years of service time.
“New Mexicans are fed up dealing with crime in their communities,” Gentry said. “Sen. Ivey-Soto and I have worked hard on a few common-sense ideas that will keep New Mexico’s most dangerous criminals off our streets, connect inmates with needed drug and mental health treatment, and offer incentives for experienced law enforcement officers to stay on the beat. I urge my colleagues in the Legislature to adopt these ideas and stop crime from continuing to plague our state.”
“These bills offer practical solutions to reduce New Mexico’s escalating crime rates,” Ivey-Soto said. “Too many people have been affected by crime, and we must act now to change conditions in New Mexico. We owe it to New Mexicans to try these strategies and fight crime in our state.”
Gentry and Ivey-Soto will be joined by Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, victim advocates Nicole Chavez-Lucero and Veronica Rael-Garcia, and Det. Shaun Willoughby from the Albuquerque Police Officer Association.
Bipartisan Crime Reduction Bills
House Bill 20 – Enroll Inmates in Medicaid
A large percentage of inmates in jails and prisons are struggling with mental illness and/or substance abuse. By enrolling those who are eligible for Medicaid, the can provide health care coverage so that they can receive the mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse treatment they need.
- Requires screening for mental illness and substance use disorder of all inmates who are incarcerated for at least 100 days
- Correctional facilities must ensure that inmates who are diagnosed with a mental illness or substance abuse disorder are referred to case management, evidence-based behavioral health services, employment services, and housing
- Correctional facilities must facilitate the inmate’s enrollment in Medicaid
Pre-Trial Detention Presumptions
New Mexicans want an end to the criminal justice system “revolving door.” One step we can take is to clarify situations in which pre-trial detention is required to prevent violent criminals being released and committing additional crimes while awaiting trial.
- Creates a rebuttable presumption that a person is dangerous, and no release conditions will reasonably protect the public when
- There is a finding of probable cause that the person committed a felony while on conditions of release for a separate felony
- There is a finding of clear and convincing evidence that one of the felonies involved violence or the potential for violence
- Defines “violence” as use of a deadly weapon or infliction of great bodily harm
- Defines “potential for violence” as the potential infliction of great bodily harm
House Bill 21 – Matching Funds for Retention from Law Enforcement Protection Fund
New Mexico has the worst property crime rate in the country and is ranked as the 2nd most violent state. While the problems are complex, one of the biggest factors is the lack of law enforcement officers patrolling the streets.
- Allows for retention bonuses of $15,000 for law enforcement officers who have at least 20 years of service
- The Law Enforcement Protection Fund provides $7,500 per officer
- The municipality or county must provide $7,500 per officer in matching funds