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State lawmakers just passed restrictions on solitary confinement, the first of their kind in the state. If Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs them into law, New Mexico prisons and jails will have rules about who they can isolate. 

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New Mexico has the second-highest recidivism rate in the country, with half of its former inmates landing back behind prison bars within three years. To shrink those numbers, the state House passed a measure that would require jails and prisons to make sure inmates have access to behavioral health services.

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.

Judge Prohibits Jail From Holding Prisoners For ICE

Mar 28, 2017
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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. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

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.

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