New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and Community Stakeholders Announce Special Session Legislative Priorities

Albuquerque, NM – This morning, Attorney General Raúl Torrez, in collaboration with key community stakeholders, presented a set of legislative priorities they urge Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to place on the agenda at the upcoming special session. These initiatives aim to significantly bolster law enforcement capabilities, clarify Geographical Positioning System (GPS) Data and ensure the effective protection of crime victims’ rights throughout New Mexico.

“We cannot afford to miss the opportunity presented by the upcoming special session to improve public safety in New Mexico. The stakes are too high,” said AG Torrez. “These requests are vital steps towards improving our criminal justice system. I am confident that they will garner bipartisan support and can be swiftly enacted to enhance the safety and security of all New Mexicans.”

Community stakeholders and leaders at today’s press conference echoed the legislative priorities laid out below. Those advocates and leaders included pretrial detention reform advocate Angel Alire, Farmington Police Department Chief Steve Hebbe, and Executive Director of the New Mexico Victim’s Rights Project Linda Atkinson.

1. Rapid DNA Analysis Tool for Law Enforcement

Recent data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program reveal that approximately 75% of violent crimes in New Mexico remain unsolved. With a staggering 93% of rapes, 90% of robberies, 79% of homicides, and 70% of aggravated assaults going unsolved, it is imperative to support our overburdened police departments with advanced tools and resources.

The implementation of rapid DNA analysis technology will be a vital asset to law enforcement agencies. Unlike traditional methods that take six months or more, rapid DNA analysis can deliver preliminary results in as little as 90 minutes, providing law enforcement with timely and actionable intelligence. This technology will help expedite investigations, reduce backlog, and increase the clearance rate for violent crimes.

2. Clarifying Section 31-3-12 to Ensure Public Access to Records of Violations of Conditions of Pretrial Release

Transparency in the criminal justice system is crucial for public safety. To evaluate the effectiveness of pretrial supervision, it is essential that the public has access to records detailing conditions of release, compliance, supervision levels, and responses to violations. Unfortunately, current interpretations of Section 31-3-12 and a New Mexico Supreme Court Order have restricted access to this vital information.

By clarifying the definition of GPS data within Section 31-3-12, we can ensure that records related to pretrial conditions and compliance are accessible to the public. This transparency will allow policymakers and the community to scrutinize and improve the effectiveness of pretrial services.

3. Establishment of the Office of the Crime Victim Advocate

While New Mexico law establishes specific rights for crime victims, these rights are often not upheld to the same standard as those of criminal defendants. To address this disparity, the New Mexico Department of Justice is establishing the Office of the Crime Victim Advocate.

This office will be dedicated to ensuring that victims’ rights are respected and enforced. It will receive and investigate complaints, provide training for compliance, and use legal authority to protect victims’ rights. Immediate appropriation is sought to fund the necessary attorneys, paralegals, and victim advocates to support this critical initiative statewide.

A link to the full press conference can be found here.

Letter to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham outlining the NMDOJ’s Special Session priorities.
New Mexico Supreme Court Order on the recent writ that the NMDOJ filed last Friday against Las Cruces District Court Judge, Douglas Driggers.

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