February 13, 2016

Johnson: Three strikes does little to reduce crime

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Compfight cc

During a Senate floor session, a Democratic lawmaker read a statement by former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, criticizing a proposed three strikes bill.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via cc

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via cc

Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, took a moment to read the statement on the Senate floor. Johnson, who is seeking a presidential nomination as a Libertarian, told NM Political Report the piece was intended as an editorial for the Albuquerque Journal.Wirth said Johnson sent it to the Senate to be read on aloud on the floor.

Johnson wrote specifically about a House bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, that would expand the scope of the already-existing three strikes law. While Johnson specifically addressed Pacheco’s bill, he also wrote about the national trend of leaning toward more judicial discretion.

“Contrary to their intent, mandatory minimum laws like ‘three strikes’ do little to reduce crime,” Johnson wrote. “They do, however, help drive prison overcrowding and demand substantial increases in corrections spending.”

Johnson went on to say that criminal justice reform has become less partisan.

“In Alabama—hardly a liberal stronghold, lawmakers revisited their harsh sentencing policies last year and expanded parole to reduce recidivism,” Johnson said.

Johnson went on to say that “real criminal justice reform” should entail resources be used to keep non-violent offender out of jail and violent offenders off the streets.

Pacheco has repeatedly said that his bill would only focus on violent offenders and that he has worked to avoid problems other states have had with similar laws.

Regardless of Johnson speaking out against Pacheco’s bill, many New Mexico lawmakers support the legislation .

Sen. Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque, previously told NM Political Report she is generally against three strikes laws, but fully supports Pacheco’s bill because of the focus on only violent offenders.

In a committee hearing on a curfew bill, Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, stated that he has publicly supported three strikes laws.

Pacheco’s bill is scheduled for a hearing in Senate Public Affairs on Saturday where Candelaria’s vote could be enough to advance it to the next committee.

A former Republican, Johnson is seeing the Libertarian Party nomination for president. Johnson was the Libertarian Party nominee in 2012, and received just under one percent of the national vote.