August 11, 2017 – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to the city of Albuquerque that created confusion for both city leaders and community members. The city is potentially in line to receive additional federal funds to combat crime, but Sessions asked for proof that local law enforcement is cooperating with immigration officials. ICE agents have been in the jail and transfer center for many years. Mayor Richard Berry responded to the letter by stating that publicly and adding that Albuquerque is not a sanctuary city. Host Gene Grant and this week’s Line panelists discuss that story and the importance of accurate communication from federal officials to local cities and counties.
Line Panelists: Tom Garrity, the Garrity Group PR
Mary Hudetz, reporter for Associated Press/CJ Project
Andy Lyman, reporter for NM Political Report
Laura Sanchez-Rivét, attorney at Cuddy and McCarthy, LLP
March 31, 2017 - The New Mexico Parole Board has released just 7 percent of prison inmates sentenced to 30 years to life for capital crimes. That’s an alarmingly low rate compared to other states, and it seems to buck a state law passed in 1980 that says inmates are entitled to a fair hearing every two years after they’ve served three decades behind bars.
Our state’s “30-year lifers” include multiple murderers and people who were sentenced for killing police officers; some of them have lengthy disciplinary records in prison, too. But others had clean records before the day they killed someone, and they’ve spent their time doing exactly what the criminal justice system expects of inmates: bettering themselves. The 30-year lifer population now numbers more than 400 and has increased 15 percent since 2013.
The inmates are aging, which, studies show, means they are less likely to commit new crimes if they’re released and more likely to cost the state increasingly more money to incarcerate. But Sandy Dietz, chairwoman of the Parole Board, has amassed near-complete, unchecked power in deciding on freedom for this growing number of inmates in New Mexico.
State Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, sponsored a bill in the Legislature that would’ve shifted the burden for a successful parole hearing from the inmates to the board — largely to rein in Dietz’ power. It died in committee. Rep. Bill Rehm, an Albuquerque Republican and retired Bernalillo County Sheriff’s captain, voted against the measure. This week, correspondent Jeff Proctor waded into the complex public safety, legal, moral and financial arguments surrounding the issue of the 30-year lifers with O’Neill and Rehm.