KUNM

Marisa Demarco

Public Health New Mexico Reporter

Marisa Demarco is a reporter and musician based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent more than a decade in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She covers poverty and public health for KUNM. 

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  The U.S. Department of Justice said in a court filing last week that it’s unconstitutional to keep people behind bars just because they can’t afford to pay bail. Some bail bondsmen in New Mexico argue people in poverty shouldn’t be allowed to skirt the law.

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There are 13 federal prisons around the United States that are run by private companies. One of them is in New Mexico. And today the Department of Justice said it’s going to stop using corporations to run federal prisons.

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It’s expensive and it takes years to get a new drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So researchers at the University of New Mexico are going back through the medicine cabinet of drugs developed for things other than cancer and testing them on cancer cells. 

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The lack of paid sick leave in the U.S. contributes to the spread of disease and emergency medical costs, according to the American Public Health Association. There are no federal laws about it, but some states and cities have passed their own. Advocates in Albuquerque gathered enough signatures to put the issue before voters in November. 

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KUNM Call In Show 8/11 8a: 

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. workers don’t have the option of staying home with pay when they aren’t feeling well. There aren’t any federal laws about who gets sick leave, but the issue could go before Albuquerque voters in November.

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The feds released a report on the most dangerous intersection in central New Mexico for pedestrians. It links improvements there to the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, or ART

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In an ongoing, decades-long conflict about whether public assistance in New Mexico is available to people who need it most, a federal judge has recommended that the Human Services Department secretary be found in contempt of court.

Melissa Tso member of the Red Nation and the Party for Socialism and Liberation

Police violence against people of color has been at the forefront of national debate in recent months. And in New Mexico, a group advocating for indigenous concerns called the Red Nation has been active on this issue since the killing of James Boyd two years ago.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

All around the country, states are trying to address a mounting number of untested sexual assault evidence kits. And even though New Mexico’s budget is tight, the Legislature found $1.6 million to work through the backlog here. At a meeting in Albuquerque on Monday, stakeholders gathered to talk about what’s next.

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The first report from a state investigation into whether state employees falsify food stamps applications revealed evidence of the practice, but so far, no written orders from higher-ups. The report was released Friday after a judge ruled that it had to be made public.

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For the first time since allegations surfaced that state employees falsify food stamps applications, New Mexicans heard testimony from public officials Thursday.

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A federal judge unsealed the results of a state investigation into falsification of food stamp applications by state employees Wednesday. That means the internal Human Services Department report will be released to the public. Public Health New Mexico's Marisa Demarco spoke with KUNM's Chris Boros. 

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  A federal court hearing on whether New Mexico is fit to process applications for food stamps and Medicaid is set to wrap up on Wednesday, July 6. Top brass from the state Human Services Department are expected to testify in response to allegations from employees that applications for emergency food aid were falsified to avoid missing deadlines.

Despite working as a home health aide in New Mexico for nearly two decades, Kimberly Jones was struggling to get the hours she needed to make ends meet. She was living in a hotel room, and every day she had to make a choice.

"Do I eat or do I pay for the room? Or how can I squeeze them both? Because, you know, the hotel wants their money," Jones says. "They don't care if you eat or not."

Jones applied for food stamps. She says the state worker she met with told her she was eligible for expedited assistance, and she'd get her benefits within a week.

Daphne Carrillo

UPDATE Wednesday, 29, 11:00 a.m.: The Dog Head Fire is 91 percent contained. A total of 12 residences and 44 minor structures have been damaged. The U.S. Forest Service says the wildfire was human-started, but they are still investigating how it happened.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Abortion rights supporters in New Mexico are thrilled with the Supreme Court’s ruling today, but it might not immediately reduce the number of women coming here from Texas for abortions. 

Daphne Carrillo

The Dog Head Fire has consumed almost 17,000 acres in New Mexico since Tuesday, and it remains entirely uncontained. People are leaving their homes and property, and more mandatory evacuations may be called this weekend.

KUNM spoke with Commissioner Wayne Johnson, who was stationed at the Bernalillo County’s emergency operations center Friday evening.  

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Though the country is focused on Orlando, another mass shooting happened in southeastern New Mexico last weekend, where a man is accused of shooting and killing his family. People in Roswell gathered on Tuesday to grieve. 

Right after the federal Department of Justice released a lengthy report slamming the University of New Mexico for mishandling sexual assault cases, UNM President Robert Frank held a news conference and questioned the investigators’ methods. KUNM's Marisa Demarco sat down with Frank to find out how seriously UNM’s president takes the federal criticism.

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The Department of Justice has scrutinized just two universities in the country about campus assault and harassment: The University of Montana and the University of New Mexico. Results of the DOJ probe in Montana were revealed in May 2013. The findings letter for UNM came out at the end of April this year.

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There’s expectation in the air when students go off to college—an expectation of independence and learning—and even safety. But for many people on campuses around the country who experience sexual assault or harassment, the illusion of safety can fall away. Now, the federal government has begun looking at why.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

  KUNM Call In Show 6/9 8a: The results of a federal investigation about how UNM handles sexual assault are out, and the report is sharp and critical. We’ll talk to folks from the university as well as advocates for survivors about their reactions and what’s next for the university.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Hungry people in New Mexico may have been denied expedited food assistance after their applications were falsified and put on hold. That’s according to testimony from state workers in recent weeks during an ongoing hearing about whether the Human Services Department is fit to process applications.

In the wake of 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike’s death in Shiprock on the Navajo Nation, questions have surfaced about law enforcement resources, a late Amber Alert and legal jurisdiction for the crime that’s being tried in federal court. Hand-in-hand with those concerns is also the high rate of assault on Native women.

Deleana OtherBull, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, says talking about these issues is tough, but it has to happen to support health and wellness in tribal communities. 

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When state officials unveiled a $2.7 million ad campaign aimed at improving the quality of life for New Mexico kids this week, Catholic leaders responded with criticism, releasing a statement saying it takes more than advertising to fight a problem as big and as severe as child abuse.

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Court proceedings were paused in a hearing about the slow processing of food stamps applications last week when it seemed like a former state employee could incriminate herself.  A supervisor was set to answer questions about falsified applications when the judge asked if she wanted an attorney of her own.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Child abuse and neglect is highly preventable—according to a report the CDC just released. It also says stopping child maltreatment altogether should be a public health priority. There are plenty of people who’ve been working in New Mexico on this issue for decades who agree, like the folks at the Nurse-Family Partnership in Albuquerque.

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The company that handles medical services for prisoners in the state—Corizon Health—is facing hundreds of lawsuits filed by inmates who say care is inadequate. A series in the Santa Fe New Mexican investigates whether state officials have been ignoring warning signs or have done an inadequate job overseeing Corizon. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Dollar stores are everywhere these days—they’re being built at a record pace, according to industry reports. In some rural communities in this state, you might not see any store except a dollar store. A campaign is calling on these discount chains to make sure products are nontoxic.

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New Mexico’s attorney general announced on Tuesday that his office cleared the final two behavioral health providers accused of fraud. Those allegations against more than a dozen providers shuttered services that the state is still scrambling to restore.   

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