On Tuesday night, the New Mexico House of Representatives considered S.B. 114, sponsored by Sen. Bill O’Neill (D-Bernalillo) and Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe), which seeks to allow “geriatric” convicts (age 55 or older) out on parole with a plea to the New Mexico Corrections Department.
According to the fiscal impact report of the bill, “eligible inmates (or their representatives) submit applications for medical and geriatric parole to NMCD, and the department determines whether to recommend the applicant be granted parole under the medical and geriatric parole program.”
The bill would allow pedophiles and rapists to be released from prison on this parole program, which Republican members of the House took issue with.
Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval & Santa Fe) rose to the floor to condemn the bill. She said, “What they found in a study in 2008 is that people who are sex offenders have a decreased brain matter, and it results in a compulsive behavior where they are compelled to rape and molest children over and over again. So, when I was doing my research, there was no cure for pedophiles. And there was extremely limited rehabilitation for rapists, and that was if they were in therapy constantly and there is still a high rate of recidivism.”
“And so when I was reading through this, I was thinking, you know, a really good idea would be not to put these sex offenders back out on the street, and that’s because 50% of all rapists have a prior conviction and the typical pedophile will commit 117 sexual crimes in their lifetime. That’s nationwide. In Virginia, they have found for the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission that pedophiles molest an average of 300 children in their lifetime. So, I started thinking about that. Do we really want to release sex offenders back out into a community when the bureau of justice says they are four times more likely to be arrested on another crime?”
“And our oldest pedophile is 101 years old. So, pedophiles and sex offenders don’t quit raping and molesting children,” continued Lord.
Rep. Lord attempted to amend the bill to stop pedophiles and rapists from being released into communities to continue to cause acts of sexual and other violence upon New Mexicans.
During the debate on the amendment, Lord said, “I don’t think that’s the kind of people we want to release.” She cited a case in New Mexico where a pedophile was released and in one week raped three children. “Sex offenders sex offend their entire life. They don’t suddenly get better.”
The bill sponsor, Rep. Romero, claimed the amendment was “unfriendly.”
Rep. Pettigrew said, “We’ve had conversations on this on a multitude of bills as they’ve gone through CPAC (Consumer and Public Affairs Committee), and unfortunately all of them, they seem to be unfriendly when it comes with respect to sex offense and pedophiles and different serial rapists and stuff like that. And it is unfortunate. I agree with your amendment… and I will support it.”
However, Democrats, led by Rep. Doreen Gallegos (D-Donña Ana), voted to protect pedophiles and table the amendment on a vote of 41-28. The only Democrats who voted against tabling the amendment were Reps. Harry Garcia (D-Bernalillo, Cibola, McKinley, Socorro, San Juan & Valencia), Candie Sweetser (D-Grant, Hidalgo & Luna), and Marian Matthews (D-Bernalillo).
During debate on an amendment, Democrats snuck into S.B. 114 duplicative language to a bill regarding felon voting rights that looks likely dead in the Senate, H.B. 74. Republicans, including Rep. Rod Montoya (R-San Juan), brought up the House rule stating how it is against House rules to do such a thing.
Despite that, Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) claimed his closed-door, dead-of-night lawmaking (which includes Democrats erecting a fence around the Capitol to keep the people out of the People’s House) was “extreme transparency and openness in this entire process.” He said the discussion was “a wonderful example of complete transparency.”
The bill finally passed, without the amendment barring pedophiles and rapists out on parole, by a vote of 37-33.