By CSG Justice Center Staff
New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil joined Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD) Secretary Monique Jacobson and leaders from all three branches of state government in Albuquerque on April 13 to launch the Statewide Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee, which will perform a comprehensive review of New Mexico’s juvenile justice system.
“Through this task force, we hope to assess how state and local resources are being used to create better outcomes for the youth who are in our juvenile system,” Gov. Susana Martinez said.
The Statewide Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee, comprising members of the state legislature, law enforcement, county officials and judges, is tasked with building upon New Mexico’s 2008 policy changes that dramatically shrank the population of youth who were referred to the juvenile justice system.
The number of youth who were referred to New Mexico’s juvenile justice system declined by nearly 50 percent from 2009 to 2016, during which time the number of youth on probation declined by 55 percent, and commitments to CYFD facilities declined by 28 percent.
“This comprehensive, data-driven review provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to conduct a thoughtful review of the juvenile justice system,” Justice Vigil said. “I look forward to working with my fellow committee members to make sure we are using resources to make our system more effective and fair and better serve the needs of youth and families.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) chose New Mexico along with Nevada as the only two states in the country to receive technical assistance through Improving Outcomes for Youth (IOYouth): A Statewide Juvenile Justice Initiative.
“Ensuring that our youth have all the tools that they need to succeed is our highest purpose,” Secretary Jacobson said. “Through the research gathered from this initiative, all three government branches will work together to strengthen our system and find new ways to improve what we do.”
With the guidance of the interbranch committee, The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center—a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization—will conduct the analysis of New Mexico’s juvenile justice system and report back to the committee with the ultimate goal of working with the state to develop policy changes for consideration in the 2018 legislative session.