SANTA FE — New Mexico will abolish juvenile life sentences without the possibility of parole under legislation signed into law Friday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
The bill ensures that people sent to prison for a serious crime committed when they were 14 to 17 years old could make the case that they deserve a second chance.
They would get a parole hearing 15 to 25 years into a long sentence, depending on the severity of the underlying conviction.
“I am very grateful to the governor for recognizing that incarcerated individuals who made horrible mistakes as children are deserving of hope and the possibility of redemption,” said Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, an Albuquerque Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill.
A similar proposal failed last year. But the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and other supporters developed a revised version this year to address some of the opposition.
“We are overjoyed that New Mexico has made this important choice to believe in redemption,” said Denali Wilson, a staff attorney at the ACLU. “So many of the people impacted by this bill have already been in prison for decades, many for longer than I have been alive. For them, today marks the first day of hope.”