Governor signs criminal justice reform bills | KOB 4
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Governor signs criminal justice reform bills

Governor signs criminal justice reform bills

KOB Web Staff
April 03, 2019 04:43 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M- Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a pair of criminal justice reform bills into law on Wednesday.

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Senate Bill 96 removes the so-called "criminal history box" from job applications and House Bill 370 gives people who are convicted of a misdemeanor or non-violent felony the chance to have their criminal record  expunged after completing their sentence.

The governor called the new laws "smart criminal justice reform initiatives... that prioritize our public safety resources."

"We will never, ever weaken our resolve to be tough on the worst offenders. But we will responsibly take steps to assist our friends and neighbors who deserve a second chance to contribute to our society," Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

However, some people don't agree with the governor.

New Mexico Foundation for Open Government said House Bill 370 "violates the most basic principle of the public's right to know by erasing what is and has historically been a public record."

NMFOG's full statement:

  • While the bill’s initial intent was to give victims of identity theft an avenue for expunging public records related to their cases, this bill goes way beyond that. It allows anyone who has been charged with a crime but not convicted to petition a court to have the public records about their case expunged. In most cases, the court is required to grant that request.  The bill allows those who have been convicted to have their records erased after a certain number of years if they have not reoffended. The amount of time a convicted criminal would have to wait to seek expungement would grow based on the seriousness of the crime.
  • Innocence isn’t the only reason many people arrested for a crime aren’t convicted. In many of our judicial districts, those arrested for serious crimes only have a 50/50 chance (or lower) of being convicted. Bernalillo County, for example, dismissed tens of thousands of cases under a previous District Attorney because she couldn't keep up and meet court deadlines. There are cases where an individual had been charged more than a dozen times in a dozen different crimes -- but they were all dismissed. 
  • The bill violates the most basic principle of the public's right to know by erasing what is and has historically been a public record.
  • It would let the courts wipe away the public record of arrests and convictions as though they never occurred. This would set a very dangerous precedent.
  • It could also endanger the public and create liability for employers, landlords and others who might be held responsible for their workers’ or tenants’ actions, even if they no longer had a way to verify with certainty whether or not that person had a criminal history before hiring or renting to them.

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KOB Web Staff

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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