Calling on state legislators to listen to their neighbors about how criminals are terrorizing communities across the state, Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday urged lawmakers to pass a crime package that would put people who are convicted of three violent crimes in prison for life and that would bring back the death penalty for cop and child killers.
Martinez also called for a reform of the state's pre-trial release system in order to keep repeat and violent offenders in jail, and for increased penalties for people who commit crimes while on probation or parole.
And Martinez said that the state's Supreme Court justices acted contrary to the wishes of state residents when they wrote rules for a voter-approved constitutional amendment that was supposed to let judges deny bond to dangerous offenders. Instead, critics say that because of the rule, dangerous offenders are being let out of jail within hours after being arrested.
Voters approved the amendment in November of 2016 and the Supreme Court's rules took effect last summer.
“The Supreme Court is the one that did the rule after the people of New Mexico voted to keep violent offenders behind bars,” Martinez said during a news conference in Albuquerque to announce her anti-crime plan. “The rule was written after the fact and the rule was not voted on by the people.”
When asked if she thought the Supreme Court's rule was contrary to what residents voted for by approving the constitutional amendment, Martinez said, “Absolutely. I do not think that the people thought that the consequences that they are suffering now would have come about by voting on that constitutional amendment.”
Martinez also urged judges to look deeper into defendants' backgrounds before deciding whether to release them on bond.
“We don't assess the risk of not coming back to court, risk to the community, flight risk and repeat offenders,” Martinez said. “We don't take into account many of those things, and we don't take into account the current offense.”
In calling on lawmakers to approve her crime package, Martinez said:
“For too long, violent and repeat criminals have terrorized our families and communities. New Mexicans need and deserve to be safe from criminals – we must act once and for all to end the revolving-door justice system in our state. These proposals help get our law enforcement officers more of the tools they need to get criminals off the street and behind bars where they belong. I call on lawmakers to join me in putting New Mexicans first by enacting these proposals.”
Here are the key elements to Martinez's crime-fighting proposals:
Targeting Repeat Offenders, Supporting Law Enforcement and the Courts
- Expanding New Mexico’s Three Strikes Law to allow for a life sentence for those convicted of a third violent felony
- Reforming New Mexico’s pre-trial release system to keep the most dangerous criminals off the streets
- Increasing penalties for crimes committed while on probation or parole
- Cracking down on adult and juvenile fugitives
- Increasing penalties for those convicted of drunk driving four or more times, and allowing judges to consider felony DWIs when sentencing habitual offenders
- Expanding Baby Brianna’s Law to allow for a life sentence for intentional child abuse resulting in death, regardless of the child’s age
- Fixing a loophole in New Mexico law to make it a crime to send any images of any person’s intimate parts to a child
- Making enticement of a minor a felony regardless of the child’s age
- Calling on the Legislature to reinstate the death penalty for those who kill children, police or corrections officers.