CYFD secretary seeks dual sentence option for juvenile offenders
January 08, 2018 06:15 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- On Jan. 18, 2013, 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego killed his father, mother and three siblings -- ages 2, 5 and 9. Later in court, it was discovered he shot one of his siblings with two different guns just to hear how loud one of the guns would echo in the house.
Before killing his little brother, Griego showed him the sight of their dead mother.
In February 2016, Griego had an amenability hearing where a judge had to decide one of two choices: send Griego to an adult prison for the rest of life, or send him to the Children Youth and Families Department for treatment until he turned 21. Judge John Romero chose the second option.
During testimony at that time, a psychiatrist stated he diagnosed Griego with antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and paranoid personality disorder. Another psychologist testified Griego needed at least five more years of treatment before he could be returned to society.
When Nehemiah Griego walks free on March 20, CYFD will have had only had two years and one month with him. That psychologist was clear that the necessary treatment cannot be completed in that short time.
"When a young person turns 21, they get out and there is nothing we can do to stop that," CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson said.
For the fourth year, Jacobson is trying to change that with a legislative move.
"What that would do is make it so that before these youthful offenders get out, they would need to go before a judge. That would allow us to talk about if they truly were amenable to treatment and how did they do while they were with us," she said.
Jacobson wants to give judges a third option: a dual sentence where a youthful offender spends time getting treatment in CYFD custody, then if needed would have some degree of supervision after the age of 21 whether that be in prison or probation.
It's not a particularly popular idea among some Democrats.
Regarding Griego's release, the state has appealed and an appellate court will hear arguments later this month. The Court of Appeals could allow Griego's release as planned or reverse Romero's ruling. A reversal would likely send Griego to prison.
Updated: January 08, 2018 06:15 PM
Created: January 08, 2018 03:19 PM
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