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SANTA FE, NM – Americans for Prosperity-New Mexico (AFP-NM) today commended state Senator Bill O’Neill for introducing SB 247, a bill that gives the parole board an opportunity to weigh individual circumstances and make a parole decision accordingly, while allowing reformed men and women an opportunity to succeed. Currently, juveniles can be sentenced to life without parole. This bill mandates the parole board provide an incarcerated individual who was sentenced for offenses committed under the age of 18 with a meaningful opportunity to rejoin their community.
AFP-NM State Director Burly Cain issued the following statement:
“Locking up boys and girls under the age of 18 for life is costly for taxpayers and perpetuates our broken criminal justice system that prioritizes punitive measures over dignity and redemption. This bill gives the parole board an opportunity to weigh individual circumstances and make a parole decision accordingly, while allowing reformed men and women an opportunity to succeed. We thank Senator O’Neill for introducing this bill that recognizes we can help men and women contribute and become productive members of their communities. We will work to help mobilize support behind this bill and get it passed so we can provide second chances for those who have earned them.”
AFP believes that an effective criminal justice system protects people and preserves public safety, respects human dignity, restores victims, removes barriers to opportunity for people with criminal records, and ensures equal justice for all under the law.
Criminal justice reform is a top issue for AFP-NM. Brenda Boatman, the group’s community engagement director, testified before the New Mexico Parole Board on a rule change this legislation is based off.
A recent study from Montclair State University found recidivism rates are extremely low among juvenile lifers who were released following sentencing reform, with only a 1% recidivism rate after 1.5 years.
Imprisoning juveniles for life is extremely costly for taxpayers. According to a 2007 study by researchers at UC Berkley and Tulane University, on average, it costs $2.5 million to incarcerate a juvenile for life in the United States. In contrast, by working from age 26 to age 66, an average worker with a high school education generates $218,560 in tax revenue, and an average worker with a college education generates $706,560 in tax revenue.