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Law giving judges access to juvenile records takes effect

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A handful of New Mexico laws are set to take effect Wednesday, including one allowing judges to review and take into consideration some crime suspects’ juvenile court records when making sentencing and bail decisions.

Jaydon’s Law, named for an Albuquerque teen who police say was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting, was one of the more high-profile measures introduced by House Republicans in response to violent crimes that grabbed headlines last year to win approval in the Legislature this winter.

Nearly 20 pieces of proposed legislation aimed to crack down on criminals and extend prison terms for violent career felons, parole jumpers and others. But in the end few were approved by lawmakers — many of whom questioned tough-on-crime measures that opponents argued could ramp up prison costs during a tight budget year.

The agenda, primarily pushed by Gov. Susana Martinez and GOP lawmakers, also came as much of the country looked toward easing sentencing laws and focusing on rehabilitation. Rep. Paul Pacheco, an Albuquerque Republican and one of the sponsors of Jaydon’s Law, vowed this year to reintroduce other measures that failed, including an enhanced three-strikes law, during the next year’s legislative session.

With House Bill 336, better known as Jaydon’s Law, judges can access sealed youth records of defendants younger than 30 while making decisions about their cases. However, they cannot review crimes committed by a defendant before he or she turned 14. The law also requires that records still must be kept confidential, and the reviews are to take place in a judge’s chambers.

A law to create a more comprehensive criminal database for courts and law enforcement to access also is among laws set to go into effect Wednesday.

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