By The Council of State Governments Justice Center Staff
In April, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill (HB) 342 into law, a Justice Reinvestment bill that ensures crime victims will have more avenues by which to receive support. Another Justice Reinvestment bill, HB 564, was vetoed. Had it been enacted, it would have strengthened probation and parole supervision and adopted new strategies to handle technical violations of supervision. Governor Lujan Grisham indicated that the bill was “predicated on sound policy considerations” but cited the need for additional stakeholder engagement as her basis for the veto. She announced her intention to continue working on probation and parole reforms leading up to the next legislative session.
Why is HB 342 needed?
New Mexico had the highest property crime rate and the second-highest violent crime rate in the country as of 2017. Yet only a small fraction of people who report being a victim of a violent crime apply for victim compensation, and many of those claims are denied. HB 342 aims to support victims of violent crime to increase trust in the criminal justice system.
What does this legislation mean for New Mexico residents?
More victims of crime will be eligible to receive support. Under the new law, eligibility for victim compensation will be expanded to include victims who confide in a licensed medical or mental health care provider (including a tribal care provider) about the crime. Before, eligibility was limited only to victims who reported the crime to law enforcement within 30 days.
How was the legislation developed?
In 2018, New Mexico leaders requested and received support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Pew Charitable Trusts to employ a Justice Reinvestment approach to address the state’s criminal justice challenges. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center provided intensive technical assistance. With guidance and oversight from New Mexico’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group, CSG Justice Center staff collected and analyzed data and developed a set of proposed policies, which are reflected in the legislation.
Learn more about HB 564, which was vetoed, in the Albuquerque Journal and the Santa Fe New Mexican and read the criminal justice system analysis presentations that CSG Justice Center staff delivered to the working group in 2018.