A Senate committee in New Mexico is discussing a new bill that minors sentenced to life imprisonmentwithout parole, they could get out of prison after a certain time.
The bill would give minors under the age of 18, convicted of serious crimes, a second chance after serving 15 years in prison, which is opposed by relatives of the victims.
“We fought so hard to get that culprit incarcerated and get that sentence, that this is like having the rug pulled out from under you,” said Nicole Chavez, mother of a shooting victim. “It’s like taking your breath away.”
Chavez lost his 17-year-old son Jaydon in 2015. He was shot to death as he left a party, and years later he continues to fight for him.
“He was killed by a 17-year-old who turned 18 two months later, so this bill would affect the life sentence we got on behalf of my son,” Chavez said.
The woman refers to Senate Bill 43 that would allow someone who committed a felony before the age of 18 to get a parole hearing after they turn 15.
“Compassion is not one-sided,” said state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo López, sponsor of the bill, who argues that juvenile offenders would be given a chance to change, since their brains were still developing at that age.
“When you look at these, these young people, these kids who are in prison with really long sentences and you look at their backgrounds and what they’ve been through, they too have been victims at some point in their lives. It is very sad and I hate the idea of throwing away the lives of these children,” said Sedillo López.
Chavez doesn’t see it that way. He points out that the fact that her son’s killer was sentenced to life in prison is the only justice that she and the families of other victims can have.
“We will not get our children back,” says Chavez. “I will never have Jaydon again. I can never hug him again. I will never get to smell him or hold his hand. For me, the only justice we receive for his murder is the life sentence of his murderer and the legislators would take that away from us, as victims we never recover our hearts”.
Chavez will testify in full committee when this bill is discussed, which has already been approved by the Health and Public Affairs Committee. If it passes this second committee, then it would go to the full Senate for another vote.