By Susan Montoya Bryan
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s juvenile justice system is going under the microscope as part of a comprehensive review by a team of judges, prosecutors, lawmakers and others.
New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil and officials with the state’s child welfare agency launched the task force Thursday with an initial meeting in Albuquerque. More meetings and focus groups are planned over the next several months as the group looks at trends in the state based on the latest data and considers policy changes and possible legislation.
“When we look at the issues that are facing our state and the things that we need to do to get our state where I know we all want it to be, there’s no doubt in my mind as to the role juvenile justice plays,” said Monique Jacobson, head of the state Children, Youth and Families Department.
Jacobson said the state has an opportunity to change the trajectory of the young men and women who are in the system by focusing on policies that will lead to better outcomes. She cited rehabilitation rather than unnecessary detention.
Vigil said many changes have already been made in New Mexico but the new data-driven collaboration over the various branches of government marks an unprecedented opportunity.