Hello. My name is Evie, and I am the daughter of a victim of a violent juvenile crime. I state this solemnly. Right now, there is a bill in the New Mexico legislative pipeline that would make it possible for juveniles sentenced for wildly violent crimes eligible for parole after just 15 years. If the perpetrator is denied, then they would be able to be considered for parole every two years thereafter. This is Senate Bill 247. I cannot stress enough how disturbing this is to the living victims of these crimes.
My story started on Aug. 28, 2017, when a young man walked into the Clovis Carver Public Library. He brandished guns from within his bag and began to open fire on any person he had in sight. With laughter and smiles, he made it known he wanted to kill and be known for it. My mother, Krissie Carter, was one of his victims. She was the youth services librarian for over a decade, and her office was located near the entrance of the library. The moment I caught word there was an active-shooter situation at her job, I could not help but think of the worst. I prayed with everything in me, but something told me something terrible was going to happen to my family that day. He claimed two lives and wounded four others. There is an unknown number of mentally traumatized patrons suffering the memory in silence.
I recently met with other families of similar circumstances. A woman in the room recalled for us the story of her son, who was so violently murdered by someone he considered a friend that he was rendered unrecognizable. He was beaten, cut up and set aflame. Unbeknownst to her, she looked her son’s murderer in the eyes after the crime, and he told her he had no idea where her son was located. The sponsors of this bill refer to these juveniles as children, but a child is pure innocence. These crimes exhibit the actions of a deeply disturbed and corrupted soul within a developing body — not a child.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 41,852,838 young people between the ages of 10 and 19 in the United States, 13 percent of the total U.S. population, in 2019 (actforyouth.net/adolescence/demographics/).
There were 44,010 arrests of juveniles for violent crimes made in 2019. Violent crimes were defined as murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault (ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/qa05101.asp).
That’s 0.10 percent of the 2019 total number of U.S. young people age 10-19. The remaining 99.9 percent of these youths also had underdeveloped brains, yet they did not commit violent crimes. They still exhibit empathy and conscience as they continue to develop into adulthood through all of their wide ranges of emotions, family environments, personal traumas, circumstances and personal convictions. Human beings are creatures of free will from the moment we begin to crawl.
There are gray areas, and so the spectrum of severity needs to be considered in a bill such as SB 247. As written, the bill can be interpreted as saying one sentence fits all crimes committed by juvenile violent offenders. I speak against the sheer possibility that teenage mass shooters or adolescent rapist killers could walk free after a mere 15 years. The victims should not have to rip the stitches out of their wounds every two years as the perpetrators proceed with parole hearings.
My sincerest thank you for taking the time to read this.