November 05, 2009

Bingaman & Udall: Senate Approved Bill Funds Southern New Mexico Projects

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today said they are pleased that a key spending bill the Senate approved today contains millions of dollars to fight meth use, tackle border crime, and support the state's drug courts. The bill will now be subject to a House-Senate panel, which will negotiate final legislation that can be signed into law.

The fiscal year 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill contains $265,000 the Senators secured for the Juvenile Assessment and Reporting Center (JARC), Prevention and Intervention Program in Las Cruces. The nonprofit serves as a central point of entry into the juvenile justice system, where it assesses juveniles who have committed a misdemeanor or non-violent felony and makes a referral to a community program designed to address the specific needs of the juvenile and his/her family.

"By reducing recidivism rates of juvenile offenders and addressing the underlying causes of their delinquency, the JARC program saves taxpayers money with respect to criminal justice costs and reduces overall crime rates," Bingaman said.

"Crimes committed by juvenile offenders not only hurt those directly involved, but also the entire community where those crimes occurred," Udall said. "Through the JARC program, troubled youth get the help they need to get their lives back on track while saving taxpayers money and improving safety for all residents."

The bill also contains $250,000 to help the Luna County Sheriff's Department modernize its public safety communication systems.

The bill also contains funding following projects:

  • $200,000 - New Mexico State University (NMSU), Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy: Funding would help SEMAA continue to engage historically underrepresented youth in activities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • $300,000 - New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Drug Court Program: Funding would be used to expand court programs throughout the state and to standardize drug court databases and performance evaluations. New Mexico's drug courts have increased over the last five years from 20 to 41 programs, and continue to report excellent performance outcomes. In 2008, the average recidivism rate was 9.6% for program graduates two years after graduation.
  • $220,000 - New Mexico Attorney General (NMAG), Environmental Crimes Unit (ECU) Outreach and Training Program: The ECU investigates and prosecutes environmental crimes throughout the state and requires resources to educate government agencies and the general public about environmental crime. Funding would be used to conduct live trainings of law enforcement and land management personnel, and do public outreach through the media to create awareness of environmental crimes to deter criminal behavior and increase the reporting of suspected criminal environmental activity.
  • $215,000 - New Mexico Attorney General (NMAG), Human Trafficking Task Force: Funding would be used to raise awareness about human trafficking and to support efforts of the Task Force, which include the training of law enforcement, a community media campaign to raise awareness of the issue, and the education of health and social service providers in indentifying trafficking victims. In addition, the funding would be used to support victim services.
  • $250,000 - New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD), Juvenile Justice Services Pilot Project: CYFD would use the funding to develop and implement national standards for the delivery of juvenile justice services for probationary, paroled and committed youth. Funding would also be used to improve health and behavioral health services, educational services, and to decrease the recidivism rate of youth offenders.
  • $500,000 - New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD), Prisoner Reentry Initiative: Funding would be used by NMCD to expand ongoing prisoner reentry initiatives aimed at rehabilitating prisoners and decreasing recidivism rates. Funds would be used for staff training and professional development, the evolution of the department's current risk and needs assessment pilot project, and the building of a sustainable intensive case management structure in the department's prisons.
  • $200,000 - New Mexico Sheriff and Police Athletic League (NMSPAL), Gang Prevention-Intervention Program: Funding would help NMSPAL further implement a state-wide Gang Prevention-Intervention Program. The Gang Prevention-Intervention Program will address gang violence, drive-by shootings and drug-related murders. The program will identify children and youth who are at-risk for gang recruitment and seek to reduce the attractiveness of gang membership and its lifestyle. NMSPAL will work closely with law enforcement agencies, school systems, and communities to develop strategies to reduce gang activity and promote positive and healthy communities.
  • $200,000 - New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NMCADV), Hispanic Community Outreach: Funding would be used to help the Albuquerque coalition expand its outreach efforts to Hispanics across the state through a comprehensive, multi-media public education campaign to raise awareness and prevent domestic violence. Funding would be used to create and conduct a Spanish-language Hispanic domestic violence public awareness and prevention media campaign.