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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
January 18, 2005
Volume 40, Number 6

Sentencing commission publishes reports
Serious violent offenders serving long sentences

The New Mexico Sentencing Commission has released its annual report to the State Legislature on the average length of prison sentences for serious violent offenders.

Under the Earned Meritorious Deduction/Truth in Sentencing law passed in 1999, serious violent offenders must serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. Above that threshold, offenders can earn sentence deductions for activities such as completing an educational, vocational, substance abuse or mental health program.

The report, authored by Paul Guerin, Ph.D., of the NMSC and University of New Mexico Institute for Social Research, shows that serious violent offenders released between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004 had served, on average, about 89 percent of their sentences. The law, as intended, keeps violent offenders in prison for longer periods.

Even with a flat crime rate, longer prison sentences compound prison population growth, the report shows. New Mexico prisons are operating at nearly 100 percent of capacity with more growth projected. The sentencing commission will work with the New Mexico Corrections Department to study the impact of Earned Meritorious Deduction on the prison population since 1999.

The commission has also published updated versions of its New Mexico Criminal Justice Resource Directory and New Mexico Juvenile Justice Program Inventory.

Commission reports, printed directories and information are available to the public at http://www.nmsc.state.nm.us . The Web site receives more than 50,000 hits per month from those in New Mexico government and private citizens.

The New Mexico Sentencing Commission consists of judges, cabinet members and other experts in the criminal justice field.

During the past twelve months, the commission has held more than 60 public meetings and has published numerous research reports on topics including sex offenders, DWI, methamphetamines and juvenile parole boards.