NM Jail To Scan Inmates' Eyes To Verify Identity, NM Population Growth Trails Western States

Jun 21, 2018

New Mexico Jail To Scan Inmates' Eyes To Verify Identity- Associated Press & Albuquerque Journal

A New Mexico detention center is looking to use iris scanning technology to verify the identities of inmates coming in and out of the jail after it mistakenly released an inmate who was posing as his cellmate.

Metropolitan Detention Center Chief Greg Rees proposed bringing the system to the Bernalillo County facility on Wednesday after the mix-up earlier this month, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

Inmates' eyes would be scanned as soon as they are booked and before they are released to ensure that the correct person is being released.

The system will cost the county less than $20,000 a year and could be up and running as early as next month, Rees said.

The same technology is already being used at the county's juvenile detention center.

Detention Facility Management Board member Rick Miera agrees that the move would be good for the jail.

Navajo Commission Aims To Raise Awareness Of Hate Crimes- Associated Press

The killing this spring of a homeless man who police say was shot by two Albuquerque teens "for fun" has spurred civil rights and Navajo Nation human rights advocates to push for more vigilance among community members in reporting attacks perceived as directly targeting Native Americans.

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission held training sessions this week at the Albuquerque Indian Center and City Hall aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes against Native Americans, with attorneys and federal authorities outlining the legal standards for them and how to report them.

In Albuquerque, Native Americans make up 4 percent of the population, but account for 44 percent of people living without shelter, raising the likelihood they will be victimized when there is an attack on the homeless.

A 2014 survey showed 75 percent of homeless Native Americans in Albuquerque had been physically assaulted.

Washington, Other States Plan To Sue Over Family Separations- Associated Press

Washington and more than a half-dozen other states said Thursday that they plan to sue the Trump administration over a policy of separating immigrant families illegally entering the United States.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson made the announcement Thursday outside a federal prison in the city of SeaTac, south of Seattle, where about 200 immigration detainees have been transferred — including dozens of women separated from their children under the administration's "zero tolerance" policy. It calls for prosecuting all migrants caught illegally entering the country.

Ferguson said the separations violate the due process rights of children and their parents and that President Donald Trump's executive order Wednesday halting the practice has not resolved the legal concerns.

The states set to join Ferguson's lawsuit are Massachusetts, California, Maryland, Oregon, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Minnesota. New York has separately announced plans to sue.

New Mexico Population Growth Trails Western StatesAssociated Press

An analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows the population of New Mexico has grown at the slowest rate of any state in the western U.S. during the past decade.

The research released on Tuesday shows that New Mexico stands apart from the nation's fastest growing region. New Mexico's annual population growth rate was about 0.5 percent. Population growth in Colorado, Texas and Utah was at least three-times as fast.

The state's political leaders are searching during an election year for ways to stem the flight of young professionals and tradesmen to more economically robust states.

Pew Charitable Trusts Research Officer Matt McKillop says the number of people moving from New Mexico to other states has outpaced arrivals. Natural population trends from births and death kept the state from shrinking.

8 Pups Being Fostered By Surrogate Wild Wolf ParentsAssociated Press

Eight Mexican gray wolf pups are being raised by surrogate parents in the wild as federal biologists look to improve the genetic diversity of the wild population in Arizona and New Mexico.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says four pups were placed into wild dens in late April — two in Arizona and two in New Mexico. Four more pups were placed with a New Mexico pack in May.

The agency says the cross-fostering technique is a way of getting captive-born pups into the litters of experienced wild female wolves.

The agency's Southwest regional director, Amy Lueders, says biologists are adaptively managing the wolves to produce a population that is genetically robust and has desirable wild behavior.

Efforts to reintroduce the endangered wolves have been ongoing for two decades.

Hobbs Commissioners Approve Pay Raises For Police OfficersHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

Most Hobbs police officers will get a 5 percent pay raise under a proposal that won unanimous approval from city commissioners.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the increase keeps the southeastern New Mexico city at the top of the list when it comes to the pay scale for new officers in the state.

The base salary for noncertified officers will increase from $24.78 an hour to $26.02. The base pay for certified officers will increase from $26.02 an hour to $27.32, or about $56,826 a year.

The increases will cost the police department more than $338,000 annually for all current and open positions.

The police union must approve the proposal, which amends a collective bargaining agreement that's in effect through June 2020.

The city also plans to increase the base salaries of police leadership not covered by the agreement.

US Mayors Gather At Border To Demand Family ReunificationAssociated Press & KOB-TV

Mayors of cities from across the United States have begun to gather at Texas' border with Mexico to condemn President Trump's treatment of immigrant families under a zero-tolerance policy for people who cross into the United States illegally.

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber arrived Wednesday in El Paso, Texas, to join more than a dozen mayors in demanding that families who were separated while trying to enter the United States illegally be immediately reunited.

KOB-TV reports that Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller is also among the mayors visiting the border.

Trump has signed an executive order ending the process of separating children from families after they are detained crossing the U.S. border illegally.

Webber said the Trump administration cannot easily repair the emotional trauma inflicted on immigrant children and that the president's executive order doesn't fix a racist approach to immigration policy.

3 Inmates Who Escaped From Curry County Jail Back In Custody Associated Press

Three inmates who escaped from the Curry County jail last week have been taken into custody following a SWAT standoff.

County Sheriff's officials say they received a tip Tuesday that 31-year-old Aaron Clark, 24-year-old Ricky Sena and 28-year-old Victor Apodaca were inside a Clovis apartment.

After a 2 ½ hour standoff, the three men surrendered about 6 p.m.

The three have been charged with escape from jail and booked back into the Curry County Detention Center.

The inmates escaped last Friday, allegedly with the aid of a jail guard.

Authorities say 28-year-old Sarina Dodson was the only one in the master control room and unlocked the doors for the inmates.

She was arrested Saturday in Texas and faces charges of assisting escape.

Tijeras Man Pleads Guilty To Bank Fraud, ID And Mail Theft Associated Press

A New Mexico man has pleaded guilty to federal charges of bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and mail theft.

Prosecutors say 36-year-old Jesse Tucker of Tijeras had a change of plea hearing Wednesday in federal court in Albuquerque.

They say Tucker obtained almost $70,000 by using personal identifiers and checks from stolen mail between November 2016 and May 2017.

Tucker admitted to using the personal identifiers of nine people to create and obtain counterfeit ID cards and driver's licenses with his photograph.

He then used the fraudulent IDs to falsify checks, complete credit applications and apply for loans.

Prosecutors say Tucker faces up to 30 years in prison for bank fraud, up to five years for mail theft and up to two years on the aggravated ID theft charges.

Coach Accused Of Striking Another Coach With VehicleAssociated Press

Authorities say a high school coach in New Mexico was booked on suspicion of aggravated battery for striking another coach with a vehicle during a dispute.

State Police say Mark Martinez, a coach at Robertson High School in Las Vegas, New Mexico, was arrested Wednesday for the May 11 attack on the other coach, whose identity hasn't been revealed.

The victim coaches for a wrestling club that's allowed to use the school's facilities for practice.

Police say the coaches had met up to fight after they got into a dispute over text messages.

The extent of the victim's injuries hasn't been revealed.

Martinez accused the other coach of throwing a rock at his windshield.

No one answered the phone at Martinez's home when The Associated Press called Wednesday seeking comment.

$2B Power Line Project Awaits Green Light In New Mexico - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Hours of testimony, reams of documents and the concerns of ranchers and others are being weighed as New Mexico regulators consider clearing the way for a $2 billion power line project to funnel wind and solar energy from New Mexico and Arizona to the rest of the American Southwest.

A five-day hearing before the Public Regulation Commission wrapped up Tuesday, but it will likely be September before a final decision is made.

The SunZia project has been years in the making and not without controversy. Disputes rose over its proximity to a U.S. military installation and environmentalists raised concerns about effects on wildlife.

Federal land managers spent years reviewing the potential effects, and Arizona regulators signed off in 2015.

In New Mexico, SunZia is seeking permission for the location of the transmission lines and rights of way.

Joe Biden Endorses New Mexico Candidate For GovernorAssociated Press

Former Vice President Joe Biden is endorsing the Democratic contender in New Mexico's gubernatorial race.

Congresswoman and candidate for governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday announced Biden's endorsement and said she is proud to protect the legacy of the administration of President Barack Obama.

In a statement, Biden says Lujan Grisham "has been on the front lines of making health care accessible and affordable."

The third-term congresswoman is competing in the governor race against Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce. GOP Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a third consecutive term.

Lujan Grisham previously led health-related state agencies under three New Mexico governors. Lujan Grisham says she also helped ensure health care access to vulnerable residents through a small business before divesting last year.

Navajo Fighting Decision Disqualifying Him From Utah BallotAssociated Press

A Navajo man is challenging a Utah county's decision to disqualify him from the ballot in the first election since a judge ruled local voting districts were illegally drawn based on race.

Willie Grayeyes filed a lawsuit Wednesday saying the finding by San Juan County is an attack on his race and political views.

Grayeyes was disqualified for the ballot after county officials investigated a complaint and found he doesn't live in the district. They have said race and politics weren't involved in the decision.

Lawyers for Grayeyes say he's lived and been registered to vote there for decades. They say the Democratic candidate was targeted because new, court-ordered voting districts could help more Navajos get elected.

Largely Republican county leaders are challenging the new districts they call unfair.