Bill hopes to send less New Mexicans to jail

A new bill hopes to send less New Mexicans to jail.

A bipartisan bill aiming to reduce recidivism in New Mexico—or people going back to jail after they’re released—is headed to the senate.

New Mexico has the second-highest recidivism rate in the country and in 2015, 47 percent of people returned to jail.

Democrats and Republicans are coming together to create the bill, which would put more police on the street and treat more inmates with a substance abuse or mental illness diagnosis. They say that would help break the cycle.

Lawmakers also want to increase prison time for violent felons convicted of possessing a firearm and to reduce penalties for very low-level infractions, like littering or improperly displaying a license plate.

They say this will allow prosecutors, the courts, and public defenders to focus more attention on serious crimes.

KFOX14 spoke with four Las Cruces residents this morning who didn’t want to go on camera, but all agree with the bill.

One said that it’s too easy to go to jail in New Mexico right now. Additionally, the Associated Press reported in September that New Mexico jails were nearing capacity.

Dona Ana detention center says that it doesn't keep recidivism rates on file.

The bill passed the House with a near-unanimous vote and now it will head to the Senate with less than one week left in this legislative session.

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