SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – There was a heated debate on the Senate floor over a bill that would eliminate life sentences without parole for children.
“This bill matches the most lenient policy in the nation. when our governor has talked about trying to do something about our crime problem and we come with a bill that is matching the most lenient and started out being the single most lenient,” said Sen. Gregg Schmedes.
Right now under state law, kids who are 15 and older who commit murder or other violent crimes can be declared serious youthful offenders and sentenced as adults. Senate Bill 43 would not only eliminate the life without parole option for them, but it would also give a second chance to those serving long adult sentences for crimes committed as a child. There would have to be a parole hearing at 15 years.
“Across the country, this issue has received bipartisan support. This is an issue endorsed by Americans for Prosperity, Right on Crime, and other conservative policy groups. In Arkansas, West Virginia, Ohio, and Wyoming the same second chance bill had republican sponsors,” said Sen. Annoinette Sedillo Lopez.
Some opponents of the bill said it doesn’t consider the victim of the crime and doesn’t serve as a deterrent. According to the ACLU, there are 75 people currently locked up who this bill would apply to. The bill passed on the Senate floor 23 to 15. It now moves on to the House for consideration.