ALBUQUERQUE — House Majority Leader Nate Gentry wants state lawmakers to take up new criminal justice measures amid a string of high-profile crimes involving repeat offenders and he is promising to quickly push the bills himself.
Gentry, R-Albuquerque, unveiled proposals Monday aimed at requiring harsher penalties for intentional child abuse and developing a criminal database to help judges. Gentry also wants a bill to allow cities to pass curfews laws targeting minors.
“There’s no good that come out of a group of 14-year-olds roaming the streets at four in the morning,” Gentry said. “A lot of these kids are up to no good and that’s when tragedy happens.”
Gentry is pushing the bill in honor of Steven Gerecke, a 60-year-old New Mexico man shot to death in his driveway earlier this year by what police called a mob of teens involved in a streak of break-ins and auto burglaries. The teens indicted in Gerecke’s death range in age from 14 to 17.
Gentry promised that the curfew bill and other proposals will pass out of the House “within the first 15 days of the session.”
The upcoming Legislative session in January is expected to see a number of criminal justice proposals, from strengthening the state’s “three strikes” law to allowing the state to impose forced treatment for some suffering from mental illness.
Repeat offenders are suspected of fatally shooting two police officers this year, one in Rio Rancho and the other in Albuquerque. The shootings have prompted calls for changes in the criminal justice system.
However, the proposals come as state lawmakers are expected to fight over a tight budget and police and prison officials are calling for more officers.
Asked if the new proposals might mean tax increases, Gentry was noncommittal.
But Nicole Chavez, the Albuquerque mother of Jaydon Chavez-Silver, 17, who was killed in a drive-by in June, said she was pleased that Gentry was pushing for changes and promised to attend any hearings.
“We need to take our streets, our cities and our states back from those criminals, Chavez said. “We need to make Albuquerque safe again.”
Investigators don’t believe that Chavez-Silver was the intended target of the attack at a house party. A 21-year-old man, an 18-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy are facing charges in the shooting
Chavez said state lawmakers need to pass harsh penalties to keep repeat offenders behind bars.