New Mexico’s Just Deserts: How the State’s Sentencing Policies Have Negatively Affected Criminal Justice
This Article takes an empirical, data-driven approach to evaluate New Mexico’s sentencing program against those used throughout the nation. In so doing, it uses three primary factors to weigh the “success” of the state’s sentencing policies: (1) incarceration rates, (2) crime rates, and (3) recidivism. These factors are used because data from the last 40 years show that each one is affected by the type of sentencing system used in a given jurisdiction. Studies further indicate that specific types of sentencing systems are strongly correlated with lower crime, lower numbers of incarcerated individuals, and less recidivism among convicted offenders. This Article also examines the application of New Mexico’s current sentencing statutes by relying on a small dataset of convictions from 2019 provided by the New Mexico Sentencing Commission. The result of these analyses suggest that the current statutory program negatively affects criminal justice outcomes and is not functioning as initially intended. This Article urges that New Mexico conduct wholesale reform of its sentencing policies to address these problems. Studies from both within New Mexico and around the United States indicate that adopting a presumptive sentencing guideline and returning to discretionary parole release may help to reduce the state’s criminal justice problems. New Mexico should adopt both of these reforms.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.
Oliver M. Stephanz,
New Mexico’s Just Deserts: How the State’s Sentencing Policies Have Negatively Affected Criminal Justice,
N.M. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/nmlr/vol53/iss1/8