Probation & Aftercare
Juvenile Probation Officers (JPOs), employed by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), work out of 29 local offices. JPOs supervise only juveniles. The court sets the terms of probation with recommendations from the JPO, District Attorney, and the youth’s attorney. JPOs maintain contact with clients in placement through phone calls, letters, and staffing the progress of treatment. By statute, the court may extend a judgment of probation for one year until the youth reaches the age of 21 if the court finds that it is necessary to protect the community or the youth’s welfare. Probation is a court-order through which a juvenile is placed under the control, supervision and care of a probation field staff member in lieu of facility commitment, so long as the probationer meets certain standards of conduct. Aftercare (formerly parole) refers to the term of supervision that occurs once a juvenile is conditionally released to the community after serving a facility commitment term. Clients in aftercare are subject to being returned to detention or facility placement for rule violations or other offenses.
The mission statement of the Children, Youth and Families Department is:
CYFD believes in the strengths and resiliency of families who are our partners and for whom we advocate to enhance their safety and well-being. We respectfully serve and support children and families and supervise youth in a responsive community based system of care that is client-centered, family focused, and culturally competent.
The philosophy driving probation practice in the state is a balanced approach with increased emphasis on treatment and front-end services rather than commitment to facilities. JPOs are not stationed in neighborhood or school-based offices. However, almost every county has a JPO office, and many JPOs have an office they use in the schools. Most offices have community support officers and JPOs who work non-traditional hours. New Mexico provides specialized probation services, including intensive supervision, with state funding. No standard sets caseload size. CYFD uses a structured decision making tool that recommends levels of probation supervision in all counties. In addition, a Plan of Care Tracking is used. Juvenile Community Corrections and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee evaluate the effectiveness of probation programs. The legislature funds these evaluations with community corrections funding.
Delinquency Services Summary
Centralized State: With the exception of secure detention, the state operates most delinquency services for youth in New Mexico. County executive agencies administer detention. The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, Youth and Family Services, administers intake screening, probation, and aftercare services through district offices covering the 13 judicial districts and administers commitment services.
Court(s) with Delinquency Jurisdiction
District Courts exercise jurisdiction over delinquency proceedings. District Courts are general jurisdiction courts. There are 13 district courts, 11 of which are multi-county. For more information, visit the http://www.nmcourts.gov.
New Mexico Juvenile Justice Program Inventory
The New Mexico Criminal and Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council developed the New Mexico Sentencing Commission, http://nmsc.unm.edu/ an online searchable database of programs for juveniles referred to the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Departments (CYFD) Juvenile Justice Services. Users can obtain the following information about each program: program name, contact information, description, eligibility, ages served, capacity, funding sources, CYFD contract division (if contracted through CYFD), non-profit status, CYFD client populations, areas of the state served, and types of services offered.
County executives administer the 13 secure juvenile detention facilities in New Mexico. Juveniles can be detained preadjudication, predisposition, and awaiting placement. Delinquent youth can be sentenced to a local detention facility for 15 days or less within a given year. Detention may be used as a sanction for probation or aftercare violations. Detention hearings must be held within 24 hours after filing the petition. New Mexico Statutes, Chapter 33, Articles 6, 9A, and 12 and New Mexico Administrative Code, Title 8, Chapter 14, Parts 14 and 15 discuss detention. Effective July 1, 2003, the New Mexico Children’s Code was changed to emphasize reducing the number of youth in detention. Changes include: basing the decision to detain youth on an objective detention risk assessment instrument; using alternatives to detention, such as electronic monitoring and intensive supervision; and making criteria for detention more specific. Under the new detention criteria, a youth must pose a substantial risk of harm or leaving the courts jurisdiction. In compliance with the new Children’s Code, the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) is now in use statewide. Detention facilities also use the MAYSI-2 mental health screening instrument and the V-Disk mental health assessment tool.
Delinquency Intake Screening
Juvenile Probation Officers from the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, Youth and Family Services receive and examine law enforcement delinquency complaints and conduct preliminary inquiries (PI) to determine how to proceed. The PI determines the best interests of the youth and the public regarding any action taken. Intake must notify the District Attorney of all felony complaints along with any recommended adjustments to the complaint. The county District Attorney, after consulting with probation, must endorse the filing and subsequently sign all petitions.
By statute (32A-2-7), during the preliminary inquiry on a delinquency complaint, Juvenile Probation Officers from the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, Youth and Family Services may refer youth to an appropriate agency, and adjustment conferences may be held instead of filing petitions. At the beginning of the preliminary inquiry, the parties must be advised of their basic statutory rights, and no party may be compelled to appear at any conference, produce any papers, or visit any place. If the juvenile completes the agreed upon conditions and no new charges are filed against the juvenile, the pending petition is dismissed. Juvenile Probation Officers have the power to informally dispose of up to three misdemeanor charges brought against a youth within two years.
Predisposition Investigation/Client Family Baseline Interviews
Juvenile Probation Officers from the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, Youth and Family Services prepare predisposition reports for the court to consider at disposition. New Mexico uses a structured decision making formula when making disposition recommendations and determining appropriate levels of supervision to provide uniformity statewide for handling cases. The state focuses on three areas of rehabilitation: education, cognitive restructuring, and mental health care. For more information, visit the Children’s Research Center of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
Victim Rights and Services
Victims of juvenile offenses have the statutory right to be notified by the District Attorney if their offender escapes or is released from a correctional or juvenile justice facility (see 31-26-11 and 31-26-12). The court may also order a delinquent youth to pay restitution to the victim (32A-2- 31). The New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission, http://www.cvrc.state.nm.us/ administers crime victim compensation.
Commitment to State
At disposition, the Children’s Court may transfer legal custody of a delinquent youth to the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Departments diagnostic and central intake center, where staff determines the appropriate placement, supervision, and rehabilitation program for the youth. The judge may include recommendations for the placement of the youth. Commitments are determinate. They may be a one-year (short-term) commitment or a two-year (long-term) commitment. The committing court can extend a long-term commitment for additional periods of one year until the youth reaches age 21, if necessary, to safeguard the welfare of the youth or the public interest (32A-2-19). Juvenile Correction Officers supervise youth while in placement.
New Mexico was the first state to enact a blended sentencing law when it enacted its youthful offender law in 1993. Under New Mexico’s Children’s Code, once the state files the notice of intent to invoke adult sanctions and the youth is adjudged a youthful offender, the district court may impose either an adult sentence or juvenile disposition. Prior to July 1996, a youthful offender had to be between 15 to 18 years old at the time of the offense and adjudicated for committing at least one of a number of enumerated offenses. The age range for youthful offender status now includes youth age 14 at the time of the offense.
If the court chooses to impose a juvenile disposition on an adjudicated youthful offender, the court may enter a judgment for the supervision, care, and rehabilitation of the youth that may include an extended commitment until the youth reaches age 21. To impose an adult sentence on an adjudicated youthful offender, the court must find that: (1) the youth is not amenable to treatment or rehabilitation as a youth in available facilities; and (2) the youth is not eligible for commitment to an institution for the developmentally disabled or mentally disordered. In making such findings, the court must consider several factors, including the seriousness of the offense and the likelihood of a reasonable rehabilitation of the youth that would adequately protect the public. For more information on New Mexico’s blended sentencing provisions, click here. For more information regarding the impact of New Mexico’s blended sentencing law, see: Torbet, P., Griffin, P., Hurst, Jr., H., and MacKenzie, L.R. 2000. Juveniles Facing Criminal Sanctions: Three States That Changed the Rules. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
In New Mexico, the court can place a juvenile directly in a residential treatment center (RTC), group home, or other type of treatment setting without committing the juvenile to Children, Youth and Families. Such commitment is for the duration of treatment. The court and the Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) make the release decision. The JPO in charge of the youth’s probation supervises the juvenile while in direct placement.