In addition to ongoing litigation, Coyte Law, P.C. works with legislators and organizations to fight for legislation that improves prisoner conditions and aids in reforming the criminal justice system.
Children and pregnant women no longer allowed in solitary confinement in NM
July 20, 2019
A long-sought set of reforms to the way New Mexico jailers and prison officials use solitary confinement kicked in July 1, barring the practice for certain populations and starting the clock on what civil rights advocates and lawmakers hope will lead to unprecedented transparency on the controversial practice in the state.
Effectively immediately, pregnant women and children can no longer be held in solitary, and beginning in November prisons and jails around the state will start publicly reporting how many people are being held in solitary. Insufficient data has for years frustrated lawmakers’ and others’ ability to understand the scale at which solitary confinement is used in the state’s jails and prisons.
State Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, co-sponsor of House Bill 364 during the legislative session that concluded in March, sent a letter to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration and officials who run the 33 county jails across New Mexico, reminding them of the new statute’s requirements.
New law renews focus on inmate restricted housing
November 3, 2019
Harrison said the Corrections Department calls the practice “restricted housing” rather than “solitary confinement” because inmates are allowed out of their cells for two hours a day in which they can have “meaningful contact with corrections officers” and time alone in the yard.
Over the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers passed House Bill 364, the Corrections Restricted Housing Act, which bans the practice for juveniles and those with serious mental disabilities.
The bill also mandates that the state Corrections Department and county jails compile quarterly reports detailing the inmates they have placed in those units.
Top NM court official: Bail reform working as intended
November 25, 2019
SANTA FE – A top New Mexico court official pushed back Monday on recurring criticism against a 2016 bail reform measure, citing figures that indicate criminal defendants released before trial are not the driving force behind high violent crime rates in the Albuquerque area.
Artie Pepin, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, said University of New Mexico researchers found that 83% of released defendants during a recent nearly two-year period had no new arrests while awaiting trial. And of those arrested, only a small number were accused of committing first-degree felonies that are typically the most violent types of crimes...
Compromise on NM bail system passes House
February 15, 2016
Legislation that would allow for for judges to withhold bail for defendants who pose a danger to the community, but also waive bail for defendants who are in jail only because they cannot afford it, passed the House unanimously on Monday.
The passage came quickly because the House put the legislation on a fast track. In one day, the legislation passed a House committee and the House voted to remove it from another...