You should be angry about this: New Mexico has the highest backlog of rape kits per capita in the nation. 5440 rape kits (and counting). Oh, sorry – make that number 5,302 because the State Forensic Lab tested only 128 rape kits last year. All year. On Tuesday, New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller released a statewide special audit of the untested sexual assault evidence kits.
A shockingly callous image of house republicans posing for a macabre selfie before passing highly contentions legislation (in the middle of the night) to reinstate the death penalty is already going viral. The image was first captured by Matthew Reichbach of the New Mexico Political Report who Tweeted it out at 12:40 am Thursday. Before they take up the death penalty bill, a selfie. #nmleg #nmpol pic.twitter.com/d7V9xKNORr
— Matthew Reichbach (@fbihop) October 6, 2016
It was then shared by Representative Javier Martinez after hours of debate on the proposed death penalty bill and shared to his Facebook and Twitter. It has been shared hundreds of times since on both Facebook and Twitter.
New Death Penalty Bill includes public pregnancy examination for accused women, antiquated “retard” provisions
Buried within House Bill 7, the Republican bill to reinstate New Mexico’s death penalty, are provisions requiring accused women to undergo forced public medical examinations “in the presence of the court” and includes antiquated provisions governing processes for “retarded” persons and the “insane.” “Either the sponsors don’t know what is in this bill or they are so out-of-touch that they don’t understand the implications. Either way these antiquated terms and barbaric assumptions show how extreme and political this entire death penalty proposal has become,” says Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico. Section 10 of HB7 adds “new material” from the bill writers governing the punishment of “mentally retarded” persons. Section 14 governs the “insanity of the defendant.”
Update: Friday, Sept. 30, 2016:
Friday morning, our team at ProgressNow printed out almost 2,000 pages with messages like yours from New Mexicans opposing the Governor’s new death penalty plan. Gov. Martinez & Legislators: Don’t create a new death penalty for New Mexico: http://pac.petitions.moveon.org/sign/gov-martinez-legislators
We marched right up to the 4th Floor of the Roundhouse and personally delivered them to the Governor’s office, then gave copies to members of the House Judiciary Committee which heard the bill that same day. That’s a good first step, but we can’t stop there. That same day, we started reviewing the bill and found big problems with the death penalty draft no one else had written about.
In 2009, New Mexico’s legislature and Gov. Richardson repealed New Mexico’s death penalty, replacing it with new laws providing for strict life in prison sentencing and restitution for survivors and victims of our most serious violent crimes. At the time, that bold move received international praise, including an invitation for the governor, legislators and advocates who led the repeal effort to visit with him at the Vatican. Fast forward to 2016 and Governor Martinez -term-limited and facing a sustaining level of public support (less than 50% of New Mexicans have approved of her job performance in poll after poll for all of 2016) – has a new proposal to mark her legacy in office: a return of the death penalty. According to recent polls, the public is split on the issue (mostly along party lines) but those involved in the business of peace and justice are firmly against it and it’s time we send a message. “This repeal of the death penalty was a milestone, moving New Mexico from a culture of violence to a culture of peace, justice, and love,” New Mexico’s Catholic Bishops said in a united statement last month.
“To the many excellent reasons to abolish the death penalty — it’s immoral, does not deter murder and affects minorities disproportionately — we can add one more. It’s an economic drain on governments with already badly depleted budgets.”
This is the opening line from a New York Times editorial from 2009 titled “High cost of death row.”
This week Governor Susana Martinez once again showed how out of touch with reality she by simultaneously calling for a special session of the legislature to fix the projected $150 million budget shortfall within hours of also calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in New Mexico. Wait, what? The death penalty is scary expensive to maintain in every state where it does still exist. It’s incomprehensible that the “worst run state” (yes, that’s NM under Martinez) in the union could fund an unneeded, unusable, and archaic practice like the death penalty.
Las Cruces woman hosts fundraiser to clear rape kit backlog for victims like her; Legislators: “do your jobs” so she doesn’t have to
There are over 5,000 untested rape kits in New Mexico evidence rooms. The issue with eliminating such a large backlog is funding. Funding is always an issue though, isn’t it? Tired of waiting, one former rape victim is launching her own campaign to raise funds to end the rape kit testing backlog to bring justice for victims like her. Here’s her story:
Jessi Lail and others have organized a fundraising dinner and concert for Friday, August 19th to raise funds for victims to be able to go and petition the legislature directly. Additional funds will supplement victim’s services at La Pinon Sexual Assault Recovery Services.
The U.S. Department of Education, Policy and Program Studies Service released a brief examining State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education in the last 33 years and the statistics are terrifying. Barbara Petersen, APS Board Member, notes “New Mexico is second only to Texas in the difference between the increase in prison spending to education spending, 668 percentage points difference in the increases in Texas, 602 percentage points difference in the increases in New Mexico.” “Over the last three decades, state and local corrections expenditures has increased three times faster than spending on elementary and secondary education” (p. 5). From 1979 to 2013, New Mexico:
state and local corrections current expenditures and public PK–12 current expenditures had a 602% difference in percent change (p.
By Peter Goodman
Las Cruces- NMSU hosted a panel discussion Wednesday on outside money spent to influence local elections. Is this a small example? In 2014 two gentlemen from Louisiana (Glenn Hebert and Steve Afeman) contributed $2300 each to a candidate for Doña Ana County Sheriff. Louisiana’s a good way off. Apparently, neither man had previously contributed to candidates in other states.
Gov. Martinez is taking the stage with Donald Trump and the other remaining GOP presidential candidates at a Republican fundraiser ahead of next week’s NY primary. The Democrtaic Governor’s Association has a great take we couldn’t help but share… The cost to see New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez & Donald Trump together in Manhattan tonight: $1,000. The irony of Trump and Martinez sharing the stage: Priceless. Awkwardness is bound to ensue tonight, as Martinez and Trump share a stage at a New York Republican Party fundraising dinner.
Governor Martinez’s help isn’t quite so helpful these days. West Virginia’s gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole, a Republican, was the subject of a Democratic party press release today after he asked New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez to validate his candidacy with her endorsement. Martinez’s endorsement was pretty much expected for a Republican candidate for governor. She is the chairwoman of the National Republican Governors Association and that makes her responsible for raising millions of dollars annually to help elect GOP Govs. But this is the first time (but probably not the last) her infamous pizza party episode has become a topic in another state’s campaign.