Bill would reduce good time for some NM inmates

February 1, 2013 • State News

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New [auth] Mexico inmates behind bars for certain drunken driving and child abuse convictions would have to spend more time in prison under a new legislative proposal.

Rep. Zachary Cook, R-Ruidoso, has introduced a bill to slash good-time credits for inmates convicted of vehicular homicide involving driving while intoxicated and charges of child abuse resulting in death or great bodily harm, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported ( ) Friday.

On average, New Mexico inmates earning good time credits earn a month of good time for every month served, effectively cutting their sentences in half.

One recent case is that of former attorney Carlos Fierro, who was sentenced to seven years for the DWI vehicular homicide conviction in the death of a pedestrian outside a downtown bar in 2008. Fierro was released from prison last August after 3 1/2 years because of good time credits.

Under Cook’s bill, the severe child abuse and drunken driving convictions that involved a death would be classified as “serious violent offenses,” meaning the inmates would have to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.

State Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel told the newspaper the bill would serve as a deterrent to drunken driving and would have minimal fiscal impact on the Corrections Department in the short-term.

Over the long-term, however, there could be a financial impact as offenders begin to serve more time, he said.

Marcantel said it costs the Corrections Department about $38,000 a year to house an average male inmate and $29,000 to house a woman.

Eighth Judicial District Attorney Donald Gallegos, who represents the Association of District Attorneys, said he supports the bill.

“The general public out there wants to see people that commit crimes resulting in another person’s death to see harsher penalties,” Gallegos said.

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