SANTA FE – Concluding eight months of work, the multi-agency task force looking into unification of New Mexico’s jail and prison systems will release its findings Tuesday before the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee.
In February, the New Mexico legislature passed Senate Memorial 6 (SM6) and House Memorial 11 (HM11), both of which called for an evaluation of the costs, benefits, and feasibility of unifying jail and prison systems. The legislation requested the New Mexico Association of Counties (NMC) to convene a task force including members of NMC, New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) and the Administrative Office of the Court (AOC). The New Mexico Sentencing Commission and Legislative Finance Committee also participated in the Task Force. NMC sought technical assistance to support the Task Force from the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI), a nonpartisan justice system expert funded by the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
Read the full report here:
Read the recommendations here:
Tuesday’s presentation will be the first of two before legislative committees, including a December 8 meeting of the Courts, Corrections & Justice Committee in Albuquerque.
In its final report, the SM6/HM11 Task Force outlines 29 recommendations for a path forward to better understanding and addressing some of New Mexico’s justice system and corrections challenges. The recommendations stem from the overall conclusion that a unification of New Mexico’s corrections system is not recommended at this time. The Task Force concluded that unification “is not a responsive solution to the specific challenges faced by criminal justice partners” and outlines steps to be taken prior to any large structural changes.
Recommendations fall into nine priority categories identified by the Task Force, which include:
- Information Systems and Data Sharing
- Cross-Agency Collaboration and Communication
- Behavioral Health Resources – Support in Custody
- Behavioral Health Resources – Support in Communities
- Connectivity and Internet Bandwidth
- Staffing and Workforce Development
- Training and Unified Practices Across Agencies
- Funding and Resource Allocation
- Population Tracking and Trend Analysis
Recommendations range from additional research efforts to understand incarceration trends and corrections spending, revamping training for county detention employees, expanding workforce development aimed at behavioral health professionals, and improving data sharing and collection.