Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Mexico bucks the national trend on crime and punishment

In the aftermath of a heinous crime that saw a career criminal kill a New Mexico police officer the state is looking at bucking a national trend and pursuing tougher laws to punish criminals, reported The NM Political Report.
Next week, state lawmakers in the Courts, Corrections & Justice Committee will hear testimony on a bill to add crimes to New Mexico’s existing “three strikes” law, which assigns mandatory life in prison sentences to convicts of three violent crimes.
Yet the local legislative doubling down on “tough on crime” laws—comes at a time with strong national momentum in the opposite direction.
And it’s Republicans with national ambitions that, in many cases, have been making headlines for softening on crime.
“Former [Texas] Gov. Rick Perry is going around the country bragging that he closed three prisons,” said state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, who supports criminal justice reform.
Likewise, three other Republican candidates for president—Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz—have been speaking about reforming tough crime laws on the campaign trail. Another GOP presidential contender, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, recently went radio radio silent on his previous record passing tough crime laws as a state assemblyman.
Prominent conservatives like the megadonor Koch brothers and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist are lending their support to the judicial reform cause. And last month, the U.S. Supreme Court dubbed a key clause of the federal three strikes law as “constitutionally vague.”
New Mexico doesn’t seem close to catching onto this trend.
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