Criminal Justice Reform

Democrats are committed to reforming our criminal justice system as a means to improving safety for everyone, including promoting community-based alternatives to mass incarceration of non-violent offenders.

We affirm:

  1. Something is profoundly wrong when almost a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though our country has less than five percent of the world’s population;
  2. Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to invest more in jobs and education for the incarcerated and for the average citizen, and end the school-to-prison pipeline;
  3. The “war on drugs” has led to the imprisonment of millions of Americans, disproportionately people of color, without reducing drug use;
  4. Policies that provide for prisoner re-entry into society and prevent collateral consequences based on criminal history should be required to reduce recidivism, recognizing that 95% of all prisoners are eventually released;
  5. A person’s financial situation, appearance, race, address, or ethnicity should not determine if they go to jail;
  6. Commendation and support of law enforcement officers that inspire and build a trusting community and employ creative and effective de-escalation strategies;
  7. The diversity of administrators of the criminal justice system should be representative of the community;
  8. The private, for profit, prison industry is predatory, inhumane, exploits racist criminal justice policies and should be eliminated; and
  9. The criminal justice system has failed to provide adequate mental health services;

We will:

  1. Encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from the list of “Schedule I” federal controlled substances and to appropriately regulate it, providing a reasonable pathway for future legalization;
  2. Support the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis in the State of New Mexico;
  3. Support the use of DNA Testing and timely Rape Kit processing to protect the wrongfully accused, set free the wrongfully convicted, and prosecute the perpetrators;
  4. Advocate for sufficient funding to hire and train more competent public defenders to ensure every case can be timely and thoroughly represented and processed;
  5. End mandatory minimum sentences;
  6. Abolish the death penalty and solitary confinement, which are cruel and unusual forms of punishment;
  7. Eliminate life without possibility of parole for youthful offenders and end incarceration of youth in adult facilities;
  8. End policies based on racial profiling that target individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive;
  9. Prevent conflicts of interest by creating an independent oversight process for the investigation of crimes involving law enforcement, including designating a chief DA position and/or civilian oversight boards chartered with investigative authority;
  10. Remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by preventing employment discrimination based on criminal history during the employment seeking process, expanding reentry programs, and restoring voting rights;
  11. Strengthen and adequately fund diversion and treatment programs as alternatives to arrest and incarceration;
  12. Address all health care needs of arrested and incarcerated girls and women, including pregnancy-related care;
  13. Require that all incarcerated individuals, including youth, are afforded medical and mental health services, education, substance use recovery, and rehabilitative services;
  14. Treat prosecution and defense equally by providing balanced funding for District Attorney and Public Defender Agencies;
  15. Create and adequately fund an Independent Wrongful Conviction Review Commission;
  16. Provide adequate mental health facilities and services so as to reduce the incarceration of the mentally ill;
  17. End the exploitation of prison labor programs by private industry;
  18. Promote expansion of legal aid services in rural communities;
  19. Demand all law enforcement personnel receive implicit bias training initiated in the academy and continue throughout their years of service;
  20. Demand minimum qualifications for Federal Judge Appointments; and
  21. Support specialized courts that focus on unrepresented groups which need special expertise such as the homeless and mentally ill.