NM Launches Statewide Juvenile Justice Improvement Initiative

Initiative Geared to Help Strengthen Public Safety and Improve Outcomes for New Mexico’s Youth


ALBUQUERQUE -- Today, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Vigil joined Children, Youth and Families Secretary Monique Jacobson, and leaders from all three branches of government to announce the launch of the Juvenile Justice Improvement Initiative Taskforce which will perform a comprehensive review of New Mexico’s juvenile justice system in an effort to strengthen public safety and improve outcomes for youth in the state.

“Through this task force we hope to assess how state and local resources are being used to create better outcomes for the youth who are in our juvenile system,” Gov. Martinez said.  “Ensuring Public safety is also very important and is something that will also be assessed through this task force.”

The Juvenile Justice Improvement Initiative Taskforce’s goal is to build upon New Mexico’s accomplishments, and further improve the juvenile justice system to ensure that, youth outcomes are improving and that state and local resources are being used most effectively.

“This comprehensive, data-driven review provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to conduct a thoughtful review of the juvenile justice system,” Justice Vigil said. “I look forward to working with my fellow committee members to make sure we are using resources to make our system more effective and fair and better serve the needs of youth and families.”

The state initiative intends to build on juvenile justice policy changes in recent years that shrank the population of youth referred to the juvenile justice system by nearly 50 percent from 2009 to 2016. Over that period, the number of youth disposed to probation declined by 55 percent, and the average daily population of youth in Children, Youth & Facilities Division facilities declined by 12 percent. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) chose New Mexico as one of only two states in the country to receive technical assistance through the Improving Outcomes for Youth (IOYouth): A Statewide Juvenile Justice Initiative, which includes lawmakers, judges, state and local juvenile justice leaders and law enforcement.  Secretary Jacobson and Justice Vigil will co-chair the Committee.

“Ensuring that our youth have all the tools that they need to succeed is our highest purpose,” Secretary Jacobson said. “Through the research gathered from this Initiative, all three government branches will work together to strengthen our system and find new ways to improve what we do. This will require a coordinated effort, and we’re excited to already have the commitment of the three branches here today to get something done.”

Under the guidance of the inter-branch Committee, The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, will conduct the analysis of New Mexico’s juvenile justice system and report back to the Committee in order to develop policy changes with state leaders. Those policy considerations will be introduced to the New Mexico Legislature in early 2018.

Members of the task force include:

  • CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson, Co-chair
  • NM Supreme Court Justice Barbara J. Vigil, Co-chair
  • State Representative Monica Youngblood
  • State Representative Patricio Ruiloba
  • State Representative Gail Chasey
  • State Senator Gay Kernan
  • Office of the Governor Cabinet Director Lancing Adams
  • Judge Freddie Romero – 5th Judicial District
  • Judge Marie Ward – 2nd Judicial District
  • Judge Roshanna Toya – Pueblo of Isleta
  • 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raul Torres
  • 1st Judicial Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Padgett
  • Chief Public Defender Ben Baur
  • CYFD Juvenile Justice Dept. Deputy Director Nick Costales
  • Department of Public Safety Deputy Cabinet Secretary Amy Orlando
  • Public Education Department Cabinet Secretary Hanna Skandera
  • Grace Phillips, New Mexico Association of Counties
  • Sharon Stover, JJAC Chair
  • Craig Sparks, Director of Bernalillo County Youth sServices Center
  • Traci Neff, San Juan County Juvenile Administrator
  • Amber Hamilton, County Manager of Roosevelt County
  • Sheriff Britt Snyder of Chaves County