New Mexico Counties Task Force releases final report

NMC news:

SANTA FE — After eight months of work, the interagency task force looking at unifying New Mexico’s prison and prison systems will release its findings Tuesday before the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee.

In February, the New Mexico Legislature passed Senate Memorial 6 (SM6) and House Memorial 11 (HM11), both of which called for an assessment of the costs, benefits, and feasibility of unifying prison and prison systems. The legislation required the New Mexico Association of Counties (NMC) to convene a task force including members of the NMC, the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) and the Administrative Office of the Court (AOC). The New Mexico Sentencing Commission and the Legislative Finance Committee also participated in the task force. NMC sought technical assistance to support the task force from the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI), a nonpartisan expert on justice systems funded by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Tuesday’s presentation will be the first of two before legislative committees, including a December 8 Courts, Corrections & Justice Committee meeting in Albuquerque.

In its final report, the SM6/HM11 Task Force outlines 29 recommendations for a way forward to better understand and address some of the challenges facing New Mexico’s justice system and corrections. The recommendations stem from the overall conclusion that unification of New Mexico’s corrections system is not recommended at this time. The task force concluded that unification “is not an adequate solution to the specific challenges faced by criminal justice partners” and outlined steps to be taken prior to major structural changes.

The recommendations fall into nine priority categories identified by the task force, including:

  • information systems and data sharing;
  • Interagency collaboration and communication;
  • Behavioral Health Resources – Incarceration Support;
  • Behavioral Health Resources – Community Support;
  • connectivity and internet bandwidth;
  • staffing and staff development;
  • training and consistent practices across agencies;
  • funding and resource allocation;
  • population tracking and trend analysis;

Recommendations range from additional research efforts to understand incarceration trends and correctional spending, revamping training for county correctional staff, expanding staff development to include behavioral health professionals, and improving data sharing and data collection.

A copy of the report is appropriate and available on the NMC website.