New Mexico’s Prison Population Increases as National Numbers Go Down

State of New Mexico not in Step with National Trends on Justice Reform

Despite trends in the other direction, the wise Republican leadership in New Mexico has opted for higher prison population, continued over-criminalization, and continued worship at the feet of the corrections industry and its money.

The Sentencing Commission for the State of New Mexico has released a new report on incarceration and projected prison inmates. The report notes that there are currently 7,518 people in State prison in 2016 but that number will rise to a projected 8,457 in a decade which is beyond the capacity for the current system. While most States have experienced decreases in numbers in prison, New Mexico is bucking national trends by moving in the opposite direction.  A healthy body of research has demonstrated that measures such as “Three Strike” laws and inordinately long sentences for non-violent offenders are counter-productive, as well as, exceedingly costly. Nevertheless, meaningful criminal justice reform under Republican Governor Susan Martinez has been deemed unlikely.

The Unaffordable Cost of Hyper-Incarceration

The total cost for corrections in the State of New Mexico in 2014 exceeded 29 million dollars, according to the Sentencing Project.  If the current trends continue in New Mexico and the prison capacity is exceeded in a decade the State will face unaffordable budget allocations. In addition, some aging facilities in the State will need to be renovated or new facilities will have to be constructed altogether.  Such costs would prove almost impossible for the State to pay as some legislators have noted.

Bi-Partisan Demands for Justice Reform not matched in New Mexico

Across the nation, including in traditionally conservative States such as North Carolina and Texas, there have emerged bi-partisan efforts toward reform of our criminal justice systems and a decided movement toward treatment and other justice alternatives for non-violent drug offenders. But not in the State of New Mexico where the administration of GOP Governor Martinez remains opposed to substantive reforms.

Report: Number of inmates could exceed state’s current prison capacity in a decade

Source: Report: Number of inmates could exceed state’s current prison capacity in a decade

The number of Americans behind bars is shrinking, but a new report says New Mexico’s prison population will continue to grow and at a faster rate than researchers previously anticipated.

A new forecast by the New Mexico Sentencing Commission said the state’s inmate population will rise from 7,518 in fiscal year 2016 to 7,663 by fiscal year 2018. In a decade, the commission expects the state’s prison population to swell to include 8,457 inmates.

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