In New Mexico, the provisions for pardon and parole are provided under N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-10 through N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-27. Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-24, the parole board (“Board”) is created. It consists of fifteen members appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate.
Duties of the Board
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-24 provides that members of the Board will be persons qualified by such academic training or professional experience as is deemed necessary to render them fit to serve as members of the Board. No member of the Board will be an official or employee of any other federal, state or local government entity. The governor can designate one member of the Board to serve as chair, who in addition to other duties shall coordinate with the corrections department in the furnishing of services. A parole can be granted, denied, or revoked by a quorum of two on a panel consisting of three parole board members appointed on a rotating basis by the chair of the Board.
Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-25 the Board will have the powers and duties of the former state board of probation and parole and such additional powers and duties relating to the parole of adults. The Board will have the powers and duties such as:
- grant, deny or revoke parole;
- conduct or cause to be conducted such investigations, examinations, interviews, hearings and other proceedings as may be necessary for the effectual discharge of the duties of the Board;
- summon witnesses, books, papers, reports, documents or tangible things and administer oaths as may be necessary for the effectual discharge of the duties of the Board;
- maintain records of its acts, decisions and orders and notify each corrections facility of its decisions relating to persons who are or have been confined;
- adopt an official seal of which the courts can take judicial notice;
- employ such officers, agents, assistants and other employees necessary for the effectual discharge of the duties of the Board;
- contract for services, supplies, equipment, office space and such other provisions as may be necessary for the effectual discharge of the duties of the Board; and
- adopt such rules and regulations necessary for the effectual discharge of the duties of the Board.
The Board should also provide a prisoner or parolee with a written statement of the reason or reasons for denying or revoking parole. The Board should adopt a written policy specifying the criteria to be considered by the Board in determining whether to grant, deny, or revoke parole or to discharge a parolee[i].
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-25 provides that when the Board conducts a parole hearing for an offender and upon request of the victim or family member the Board should allow the victim of the offender’s crime or a family member of the victim to be present during the parole hearing. If the victim or a family member of the victim requests an opportunity to speak to the Board during the hearing in public or private, the Board should grant that request.
Grounds for release on Parole
Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-10, an inmate of an institution who was sentenced to life imprisonment becomes eligible for a parole hearing after the inmate has served thirty years of the sentence. Before ordering the parole of an inmate sentenced to life imprisonment, the board should interview the inmate at the institution where the inmate is committed and consider all pertinent information concerning the inmate. This includes:
- the circumstances of the offense;
- mitigating and aggravating circumstances;
- whether a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the offense;
- whether the inmate is a habitual offender; and
- the reports of such physical and mental examinations as have been made while in an institution.
The Board should also make a finding that parole is in the best interest of society and the inmate and make a finding that the inmate is able and willing to fulfill the obligations of a law-abiding citizen[ii].
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-10 provides that if parole is denied, the inmate sentenced to life imprisonment should again become entitled to a parole hearing at two-year intervals. The Board can on its own motion, reopen any case in which a hearing has already been granted and parole denied.
Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-10, unless the Board finds that it is in the best interest of society and the parolee to reduce the period of parole, a person who was sentenced to life imprisonment should be required to undergo a minimum period of parole of five years. During the period of parole, the person should be under the guidance and supervision of the Board[iii].
Conditions of Parole
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-10 provides that an inmate of an institution who was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of release or parole is not eligible for parole and will remain incarcerated for the entirety of the inmate’s natural life. Every person on parole will remain in the legal custody of the institution from which the person was released, but will be subject to the orders of the Board. The Board will furnish to each inmate as a prerequisite to release under its supervision a written statement of the conditions of parole that should be accepted and agreed to by the inmate as evidenced by the inmate’s signature affixed to a duplicate copy to be retained in the files of the Board. The Board should also require as a prerequisite to release the submission and approval of a parole plan. If an inmate refuses to affix the inmate’s signature to the written statement of the conditions of parole or does not have an approved parole plan, the inmate will not be released and will remain in the custody of the institution in which the inmate has served the inmate’s sentence, excepting parole. This situation will continue until such time as the period of parole the inmate was required to serve, less meritorious deductions, if any, expires, at which time the inmate will be released from that institution without parole, or until such time that the inmate evidences acceptance and agreement to the conditions of parole as required or receives approval for the inmate’s parole plan or both. The Board should also personally apprise the inmate of the conditions of parole and the inmate’s duties.
Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-10 when a person on parole has performed the obligations of the person’s release for the period of parole the Board will make a final order of discharge and issue the person a certificate of discharge. The Board can also require to the inmate as a condition of parole matters such as:
- to pay the actual costs of parole services to the adult probation and parole division of the corrections department for deposit to the corrections department intensive supervision fund. The defendant’s payment of the supervised parole costs shall not be waived unless the board holds an evidentiary hearing and finds that the defendant is unable to pay the costs; and
- to reimburse a law enforcement agency or local crime stopper program for the amount of any reward paid by the agency or program for information leading to the inmate’s arrest, prosecution or conviction.
Authority of the Board
Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-14, at any time during release on parole the Board can issue a warrant for the arrest of the released prisoner for violation of any of the conditions of release, or issue a notice to appear to answer a charge of violation. The notice should be served personally upon the prisoner. The warrant should authorize the superintendent of the institution from which the prisoner was released to return the prisoner to the actual custody of the institution or to any other suitable detention facility designated by the Board. If the prisoner is out of the state, the warrant should authorize the superintendent to return him/her to the state.
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-14 provides that upon arrest and detention, the Board should cause the prisoner to be promptly brought before it for a parole revocation hearing on the parole violation charged, under rules and regulations the board adopts. If violation is established, the Board can continue or revoke the parole or enter any other order as it sees fit.
Pursuant to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-12 any prisoner who is released by authority of the governor under any conditional release or other disposition made under the pardoning power, other than full pardon, should, upon release, be deemed as released on parole until the expiration of the basic term or terms of imprisonment for which the person was sentenced and until the expiration of any period of parole included as a part of sentence. Except for a full pardon, the governor should not conditionally release or otherwise pardon a prisoner during the period for which such person is serving any enhanced term of his sentence.
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-17 provides that on request of the governor the Board should investigate and report to him with respect to any case of pardon, commutation of sentence or reprieve.
[i] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-25.
[ii] N.M. Stat. Ann. § 31-21-10.