February 10, 2022

‘Second chance’ passes House committee on narrow vote

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee passed a bill on a party line vote that would prohibit life without parole for children in New Mexico on Thursday.

The members passed the bill on a 3 to 2 vote.

SB 43 would end the sentencing possibility of life without parole for a child and allow a parole board to decide if a child convicted of serious offenses could be released on probation or parole after 15 years. State Sen. Randall Pettigrew, R-Lovington, tried to amend the bill so that a parole board hearing could not happen before the inmate reached 20 years of prison time.

State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, said this was not in the spirit of the bill. She said most often , an inmate is not released at the first parole hearing so extending the time before a first parole board to 20 years would really mean 25 years for the inmate.

Pettigrew said the amendment was a compromise between Senate Republicans, the District Attorney’s Association, victims’ families and the governor’s office.

State Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, also a sponsor of the bill, asked that the amendment be brought up instead in House Judiciary Committee. Chasey is the chair of that committee.

The committee voted to table the amendment, also by a party line vote of 3-2. The bill heads to House Judiciary Committee next.