The cost of being tough on crime in NM

After a year of high-profile violent crime in New Mexico, Gov. Martinez urged lawmakers to get tough on crime this session, pushing for stiffer sentences, expanding three-strikes rules and calling for reinstatement of the death penalty. But many Democrats, who control the House and Senate, say we can’t afford to keep putting people behind bars. This week the state Senate voted to require all changes to sentencing to go through an analysis of how they’ll impact the amount we spend on corrections. This week on New Mexico in Focus we explore how much it costs to get tougher on crime.

Sen. Cisco McSorley is a Democrat from Albuquerque. A lawyer, he is asking the Legislature to re-form a subcommittee to look at criminal justice reform and report back to the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, on which he serves.

Steven Robert Allen is the director of public policy for ACLU-NM, which advocates for reform of the state’s criminal law system and is a member of the NM SAFE coalition.

Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, is co-sponsoring with Sen. Bill O’Niell, D-Albuquerque, a bill that would “ban the box,” or prevent employers from asking about criminal convictions at the first stage of the hiring process.

People, Power and Democracy is a collaborative media project between KUNM, New Mexico in Depth, New Mexico PBS and the New Mexico News Port that explores the influence of money in New Mexico politics. Partial support for the project comes from the Thornburg Foundation.