SANTA FE, NM (STL.News) Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday signed into law a measure that removes from criminal statute certain fines and fees relating to offenses committed by youth, aligning with the juvenile justice reform efforts of the Children, Youth and Families Department.
The measure eliminates fines for the possession of cannabis by a minor and modifies the requirement for community service to a maximum of 48 hours. It also removes a nonrefundable “application fee” for public defender representation for any child subject to the provisions of the state Delinquency Act.
“These fees are disproportionately painful for lower-income families,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Nickel-and-diming New Mexico families doesn’t solve anything. On the contrary, it can create a vicious cycle of fee collection and license revocation, all of which serves only to entrap too many New Mexicans in the criminal justice system. Instead, we need to be looking at ways to reduce the administrative burden on families and reduce the potential for recidivism, so we can focus on providing more opportunities for growth to all youth and families in New Mexico.”
“Fines and fees unfairly penalize economically disadvantaged families and are contrary to the rehabilitative purpose of our juvenile justice system,” said CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock. “CYFD is committed to working to strengthen these youth and families to avoid further system involvement and promote successful, healthy transitions to adulthood. HB 183 is one more positive step forward in juvenile justice reform in New Mexico.”
House Bill 183 was approved unanimously by both chambers of the Legislature and was sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey and Rep. Roger Montoya.
Also on Tuesday the governor vetoed House Bill 92, which would have raised the fee on drinking water testing for public water systems. The governor’s veto message can be found here.