I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Treatment-not-jail bill is paroled, moves on
A bill that would give New Mexico judges the option of sending defendants to treatment instead of jail for drug possession passed the House on Tuesday. This was the second time around for House bill 178, which failed to pass the House four days ago.
During a Sunday session, the House passed a measure to reconsider the bill and put it back on the table. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Antonio “Mo” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, told the House “it’s not a crime to be an addict. It’s a crime to posses a drug. We need to attack the root cause of the crime, which is the addiction.”
The bill would let judges and defendants choose treatment in lieu of jail time on the charge of possession. If the defendant completes the treatment, the charges would be dropped. If a defendant fails to complete the treatment the state can bring the charges again.
“We cannot mandate a person getting clean, whether its drug abuse or alcohol abuse,” said Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R- Roswell. “In my opinion its a get out of jail free card.”
Opponents argued that a defendant could get away with just a few months of treatment and then have the charges dropped, instead of facing the 18 months in jail that usually comes with the charge.
The bill will now head to the Senate after the change of fortune in the votes. Looking at the first vote, in which the measure failed, 11 representatives changed their vote.
Those who first voted no on the bill’s first vote, but voted yes Tuesday are:
Those who first voted yes, but changed their votes to no are:
Those who were present for the first vote, but not for the second were:
- Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones
- Rep. Rhonda King
- Rep. Tom Taylor
- Rep. Patricia Lunstrom
- Rep. James Madalena