Reclassifying Possession Will Lead to a Significant Decrease in Prison Population, Millions in Savings, and a Brighter Future for New Mexico’s Families
Santa Fe, NM – With the New Mexico Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee voting in favor of drug defelonization, Emily Kaltenbach, Senior Director for Resident States and New Mexico for the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:
“Reducing drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor would be a step forward for New Mexico families. Our state, our communities and our families are wrestling with the criminalization of drug use, overdose, and costly incarceration. It is time to invest in better options and stop the revolving door. We know that punishment for a drug law violation is not only meted out by the criminal legal system, it is also perpetuated by policies denying voting rights, employment, immigration status, child custody, business loans, licensing, student aid, public housing and other public assistance to people with criminal convictions.”
Senator Jacob Candelaria (D) sponsored Senate Bill 216 which passed the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee 5-0 yesterday. Currently, in New Mexico, any amount of an illegal drug (other than marijuana) is considered a felony. Reclassified, a 2018 report by the Urban Institute, shares the harm caused by felony convictions and the importance of targeting limited correctional resources more efficiently.