Female Prison Rate Rises In US, Smokejumpers Prepare To Parachute In To Fight US Wildfires

Jun 30, 2017

From Hardship To Hard Time: Female Prison Rate Rises In USAssociated Press

The incarceration of women nationwide has increased more than sevenfold over the last three decades due in large part to drug prosecutions and other factors.

The most recent federal figures show 113,000 women were held in the nation's federal and state prisons in 2014.

The following year brought a slight dip for both men and women. But those numbers could again climb in light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement earlier this year that federal prosecutors should seek the toughest sentences possible, including in drug cases.

The move has been viewed as a clear rollback of Obama-era sentencing policies that sought to reduce incarceration numbers.

In New Mexico, the rise in the women's prison population is so profound that a state sentencing commission predicts their numbers within the next fiscal year will surpass the number of beds.

Smokejumpers Prepare To Parachute In To Fight US WildfiresAssociated Press Smokejumpers who parachute to remote wildfires with enough firefighting gear to last a few days in the backcountry are practicing their skills over a desolate stretch of New Mexico desert while they await their next mission.

They're stationed in the state right now to help with any new blazes that pop up in the most difficult of spots as fire danger increases through the Southwestern U.S.

There are about 450 smokejumpers stationed at bases throughout the West and in Alaska.

Smokejumping dates back to the 1930s, when a forester first suggested it as an effective way to make initial attacks on fires.

Nearly 30 wildfires are currently burning in the U.S., including an Arizona blaze that forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

Police: 2 Found Dead In Vehicle On I-40 Were Shot In HeadAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police say a man and a woman found dead inside a vehicle west of Albuquerque both were shot in the head.

Police say they're still investigating the suspicious deaths and trying to determine a motive.

They say the dead man in the driver's seat of the pickup truck had a handgun between his legs.

The woman's body was in the front passenger's seat.

Police say the names of the man and woman are being withheld until their identities are confirmed and relatives have been notified.

A State Police officer saw the truck with a camper shell parked Thursday morning on a shoulder of Interstate 40 and found the two occupants dead.

Authorities say the man and woman appeared to have suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

New Mexico To Run New Anti-Texting While Driving Ad In JulyAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has announced the state will run a new anti-texting while driving ad in July.

The Department of Transportation released Friday the ad features a woman who answers a text message while behind the wheel and kills a child crossing the street.

The new ad comes amid an advertising blitz aimed at combatting drunken driving in the state.

Martinez signed a measure in 2014 that prohibits texting while driving in New Mexico, except when seeking medical or other emergency help.

Wildfire In New Mexico Grows, Threatens Railroad BridgeAssociated Press

Officials say a fast-moving wildfire in central New Mexico has grown to nearly 11 square miles (28 square kilometers) and is threatening at least one railroad bridge.

Authorities say the lightning-sparked blaze expanded Friday into the Bosque del Apache but no other structures were threatened.

Officials say the inferno is 40 percent contained.

The fire is burning grass, brush and salt cedar on private land near San Marcial in Socorro County. The resulting plume of smoke could be seen by motorists along Interstate 25 and by weather forecasters on their radar systems.

Officials say lightning started the blaze Monday on private land.

4 Rescued After Being Trapped In A New Mexico Gravel PitAssociated Press Authorities say four people have been rescued after being trapped in a gravel pit north of Albuquerque.

Sandoval County Fire Department Chief James Maxon said the four were trapped Thursday afternoon near the town of Placitas. He says two were rescued by 8 p.m. and transported to a hospital. The others were rescued overnight.

Their conditions were not immediately known.

He said two workers were buried up to their necks, a third up to the shoulders and the fourth up to the waist.

Maxon says the episode began after two workers got covered up to their necks in a collapse at the site. He said two other workers got caught in the collapse after trying to save them.

Barbara Goodrich-Welk, projects and external affairs manager at Vulcan Materials Company, says the collapse is under investigation.

Las Cruces, El Paso Rail Eyed To Connect Border CitiesAssociated Press

A proposed plan seeks to build a commuter rail line in one of the nation's busiest regions along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports a feasibility study unveiled this week said there is a sufficient economic base to support a rail system running from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to El Paso, Texas.

A feasibility study by the Chicago-based nonprofit Center for Neighborhood Technology estimates potential rail ridership between 4,500 and 7,400 passengers on an average workday.

The group's principal business analyst David Chandler says the cost of driving the 86-mile, round-trip from city to city is about $11,000 per household.

David Armijo, South Central Regional Transit District executive director, says officials need to conduct an engineering study next.

Officials estimate the rail system would cost costs between $120 million to $430.6 million.

The Latest: Wildfire Evacuations Lifted At Utah Ski TownAssociated Press

People are being allowed back to their southern Utah homes for the first time in nearly two weeks as crews increase containment at the country's largest wildfire.

Fire managers lifted evacuations at the ski town of Brian Head on Friday with the blaze 20 percent contained. Authorities say it's now torched more than 92 square miles (238 square kilometers), and, at its height, forced the evacuation of 1,500 people.

A state highway closed by the fire remains shuttered, so Brian Head residents will enter from the south. About half of evacuees are from that area.

Hundreds more people forced from their homes in a lakeside community to the east are being allowed back for short periods of time, though the local sheriff's office says most residents haven't been allowed to stay.