Gov. Richardson Signs Prisoner Reentry Bill

Press Release March 8, 2010
Media Contact

Julie Roberts at 505-310-4592 or Tony Newman at 646-335-5384

Santa Fe — Yesterday, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson signed a bill that will remove barriers to employment for people with criminal convictions. SB 254, the Consideration of Crime Convictions for Jobs bill, sponsored by Sen. Clinton Harden (R-Clovis) will remove the question on public job applications asking if a person has ever been convicted of a felony and delay the inquiry into criminal history until the interview stage of the hiring process.

“We thank Governor Richardson for signing the “ban the box” bill,” said Julie Roberts, acting state director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico. “The Governor and the New Mexico legislature affirmed their support for people with convictions to be given this opportunity for a second chance. This bill will make our communities safer and keep families together by providing job opportunities to people who need them most.”

The law does not prevent employers from asking about conviction status during the interview process and does not restrict employers from conducting background checks on applicants. An estimated one in five Americans has a criminal record.

“A way to keep a person out of prison after their release is to get them a job,” said Sen. Harden during debate on the bill. Harden, the sponsor of the legislation, is the former Secretary of Labor under former Gov. Gary Johnson and works as a business administrator in Clovis, NM.

“This new law will allow individuals who are qualified for a position the chance to get their foot in the door,” said Roberts. “As a person with a criminal conviction, this law will not only help me, but others around the state who made a mistake years ago and are now rebuilding their lives.”

Other organizations supporting the bill include the Somos Un Pueblo Unido, NM Conference of Churches, the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of New Mexico, Women’s Justice Project, and the New Mexico Public Health Association.

National research and studies show that employment can reduce the chance of recidivism and is a key factor in ensuring successful reentry of people leaving jail or prison.

New Mexico will join Minnesota as only the second state to remove this barrier to employment for people with convictions.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.