Thomas Wescott, 24, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, said he has been rejected by multiple employers due to a six-year-old conviction for marijuana possession. Today, he works at Sol Cannabis, the first cannabis consumption lounge in the state, which recently legalized recreational marijuana. Wescott and others like him are poised to benefit from a law that went into effect last year mandating automatic expungement of nonviolent cannabis-related offenses.
Child welfare professionals in New Mexico are applauding passage of a bill they say will improve legal representation for youth and families impacted by foster care. Advocates say that the creation of an independent Office of Family Representation and Advocacy will help families connect to higher quality — and better paid — legal aid.
Michael Brown, who was expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars, had been serving one of the state’s longest sentences for a crime committed as a child due to his involvement in the 1994 murders of his grandparents. He will be eligible for parole in February 2024 following a New Mexico district court decision.
Michael Brown is one of dozens of people in New Mexico who received what juvenile justice reformists call “de-facto life sentences” — sentences so long they will likely never be released — for crimes committed as minors. He is a vocal supporter of youth sentencing reforms, part of a national movement to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and make them eligible for parole earlier.
A bill that would have prohibited life sentences and mandated earlier probation eligibility for juveniles has failed to become law in New Mexico, exposing deep rifts between those seeking judicial reform and victim advocates.