Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday signed a bill into law that will eliminate certain fines and fees for juvenile offenders, “aligning with the juvenile justice reform efforts of the Children, Youth and Families Department,” the Governor’s Office said in a news release.

Juveniles convicted of possession of marijuana will no longer be fined, but will face a modified penalty of up to 48 hours of community service. Previous fees could be as high as $100.

The bill also removes a nonrefundable “application fee” for a public defender to represent a juvenile charged with a crime. These fines and fees are “disproportionately painful” for low-income families, Lujan Grisham said in the statement.

“Nickel-and-diming New Mexico families doesn’t solve anything,” she continued. “On the contrary, it can create a vicious cycle of fee collection and license revocation, all of which serves only to entrap too many New Mexicans in the criminal justice system.”

The focus, she said, should be on the reduction of recidivism rates and providing more opportunities for youth.

Children, Youth and Families Secretary Brian Blalock praised the law change, stating it was “one more positive step forward in juvenile justice reform in New Mexico.”

“Fines and fees unfairly penalize economically disadvantaged families and are contrary to the rehabilitative purpose of our juvenile justice system,” Blalock said.

House Bill 183 passed both the House and Senate unanimously in the regular legislative session that ended March 20.

The governor vetoed House Bill 92, which would have raised a testing fee for public drinking water systems, saying in a veto message the fee was too onerous on New Mexicans trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

(6) comments

Brad Doubles

Khal,

With all due respect, I didnt think it was a get out of jail card. BUT, if you can do the crime, you should be able to handle the hard and deserved consequences. If not, then where is the deterrent? People in this state need to raise their kids with respect for law and order. If the system does not demand that respect, then we are failing ourselves and signaling that its ok to be an arsehole....Kids and adults alike need to learn the hard way if they are incapable of knowing right from wrong and acting accordingly. Otherwise, why pay such high taxes to fund a system that obviously gets minimal results?

paul pacheco

This governor is such a loser! But guess what, she wants to run for president soon!

Peter Romero

No accountability as a juvenile, just imagine when they become adults !

Khal Spencer

It would be nice if the New Mexican linked to the bill language in the e-newspaper, so Mr. Doubles could see what the bill actually does. Its not a get out of jail free card for the Atilla the Hun crowd. Here is the bill: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/21%20Regular/bills/house/HB0183.html

It is pretty well established that many communities and states nickle and dime the public to pay fees, court costs, and otherwise fund government services on the backs of the public through fines and court costs, thus creating a policing-for-profit model. I think getting away from this idea is a good one. Especially in a state so hard hit by poverty. Da Gov is right about this one. It should be about reducing recidivism, not making money off the criminal justice system. Crime costs us more than these changes will likely cost us.

Gerald Joyce

Maybe poor and disadvantaged families should raise their children to respect the law. Wouldn't that be special!

Brad Doubles

So if a juvenile breaks into my place of business and causes thousands in damages plus lost revenue, they dont even need to pay a fee to use a public defender? If they get caught with weed, which probably cost more than $100, the empress doesnt believe they have the money to pay a fine for committing a crime? This woman, her admin and most of the NM state legislature are completely devoid of common sense. Is this really how we should run the second worst crime state in the nation???

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