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From the 2013 ACLU-NM report "Inside The Box"

Advocates around the country have been working to limit the use of solitary confinement in jails and prisons. The New Mexico Legislature passed a bill this year that would prohibit putting people who are under 18 or pregnant or who have a serious mental illness into solitary. But last week, Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed it.

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President Trump’s administration this month began publishing a weekly report of local and state law enforcement agencies that have refused to detain people so that federal agents can determine their legal status.

But a federal judge in New Mexico recently approved a settlement that prohibits the San Juan County jail from doing just that - holding inmates past their release date at the request of federal agents.

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The Santa Fe Juvenile Justice Board is hearing an update on its budget Thursday. The city plans to continue directing funds towards programs that aim to keep kids out of the criminal justice system.

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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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There’s been a lot of focus lately both locally and nationally on how police officers use force—sometimes deadly force—against people.

Now, New Mexico’s largest jail is back in the headlines after it was revealed that two inmates may have been the victims of excessive use of force.

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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. 

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The number of people being prosecuted for illegally crossing the border has risen drastically over the last couple of decades. And the penalty can include lengthy stays behind bars. But where do all these inmates go? 

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How quickly criminal cases work their way through the system has a big impact on defendants’ lives. And it’s been a little over a year since the state Supreme Court first set deadlines to speed things up and clear thousands of backlogged cases in Bernalillo County, the state’s busiest judicial district. The criminal justice system is still adjusting.

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Changes to the way the courts handle bail passed both chambers of the state Legislature as of Wednesday morning and will be on the ballot in November. 

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UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that New Mexico House Republicans and Senate Democrats say they have reached a compromise on a bail reform proposal.

Both sides spoke Friday at a press conference, with Republican Rep. David Adkins saying the bill crafted by Sen. Peter Wirth, a Santa Fe Democrat, is the "right piece of legislation to support."

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The Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to a speedy trial. But how speedy is speedy? The Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday, Jan. 27, to alter controversial rules that sped up criminal cases in the state’s most populous county. 

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The number of people who are behind bars in America is much bigger than it was 40 years ago. In fact, it’s five times higher. That means a lot more parents are doing time, and having a record can limit people’s ability to get a job, find a place to live and provide for their kids. A local program is trying to help dads get around the obstacles and back on track with their families.

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It’s no secret that the state’s jails have become default treatment centers for people dealing with mental illness. But a task force has come up with tangible steps to find a better solution.

Generation Justice

Inmates and their relatives pay steep phone bills to keep in touch, and prison phone companies rake in billions. The Federal Communications Commission moved to cap those rates last week because it isn’t only the inmate who pays the price.

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Untreated minor health concerns can grow into big, expensive ailments, maybe even fatal illnesses. That’s true for people who are in jail, too. Many of the state’s jails charge inmates copays for their medical care, but some say the fees deter inmates from seeking the help they need before health problems get out of control. 

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FARMINGTON, N.M.—Nationwide, the number of people who die in jail is rising. Here in New Mexico, three deaths in three months in San Juan County’s lockup caught the attention of attorneys and the local newspaper

Call In Show: Criminal Justice Reform

Jul 29, 2015
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The nation’s prison system is in crisis. Prison and jail populations ballooned to an all-time high, and the number of people on probation and parole has doubled.

Meanwhile, we're spending more on incarceration than we ever have—and most of that money comes out of the states’ pockets.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Just about every woman who finds herself behind bars in New Mexico will get out eventually. The question is, will she be able to restart her life, rejoin her family? There aren’t enough services in this state for all the women who want to break the cycles that landed them in jail or prison.

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For hundreds of people in New Mexico, getting out of jail or prison hinges on whether there’s a bed in a halfway house, a slot in a treatment program or space in a mental health facility. Until a spot opens up, they remain behind bars, and it costs taxpayers thousands of extra dollars while they wait.

The use of solitary confinement on people with mental illness is costing counties millions of dollars. The most famous example is Stephen Slevin, who was awarded $22 million after spending nearly two years in solitary in the Doña Ana County jail. KUNM's Public Health New Mexico Project developed a three-part series on the use of segregation around the state, looking at jails, prisons, mental health and incarceration, and recidivism. 

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Female inmates are the fastest-growing prison population in the state. New moms and pregnant women who are heading to jail could be affected by legislation proposed this session. 

Sen. Lisa Torraco’s bill would do two things: One, it would allow new moms to pump their breast milk while they’re in jail or prison, so it can be given to their babies. 

A New Mexico legislator is trying to help inmates sign up for Medicaid around the state. 

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Members of a National Academy of Sciences committee presented a report on high incarceration rates at the State Bar of New Mexico this morning. The NAS says the growth in lockups in the United States is historically unprecedented and unlike any other country in the world.

The U.S. has too many people behind bars, according to the NAS report, and the high rate of imprisonment has surpassed any public safety benefit.