Thursday, February 11, 2016

Prison Gang Roundup


The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

What happened on December 14 regarding the SNM Prison Gang in New Mexico?
On December 14, 2015, in the culmination of an historic law enforcement operation, a federal grand jury returned two indictments charging a total of 25 defendants with participating in a violent racketeering enterprise known as the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico (SNM) Prison Gang. The racketeering indictments, which were filed on Dec. 1, 2015, allege that the defendants conspired to violate federal racketeering laws by conspiring to commit violent crimes, including murder, attempted murder and assault, in aid of their racketeering enterprise. The indictments are the result of a multi-agency investigation led by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI that culminated with a law enforcement operation during which all but one of the defendants charged were arrested.
The U.S. Attorney noted that the two cases are being prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorneys Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexicos District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible. Because New Mexicos violent crime rates are amongst the highest in the nation, New Mexicos law enforcement community has been collaborating to target repeat offenders from counties with the highest violent crime rates under this initiative.
What were the indictments?

The two racketeering indictments allege that the 25 defendants charged were members and associates of the SNM Prison Gang, a state-wide gang operating in New Mexico prisons and in communities throughout the state. According to the racketeering indictments, the SNM Prison Gang was formed in the early 1980s at the Penitentiary of New Mexico after the prison riot in Feb. 1980, and expanded throughout the New Mexico penal system. Gang members and associates allegedly are expected to remain loyal to the Gang and work to further its objectives after they have completed their prison sentences and those who do not are allegedly subject to violent forms of discipline. The racketeering indictments allege that significant goals of the SNM Prison Gang include controlling and profiting from drug trafficking both within and outside the penal system; intimidating and influencing other gangs for the purpose of expanding the network for its illegal activities; and engaging in violence to assert its gang identity and protect its territory.
The first of the racketeering indictments charges 24 alleged SNM Prison Gang members and associates with committing four murders, conspiring to commit three murders and conspiring to commit a violent assault for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing their positions within the SNM Prison Gang, an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity. The indictment includes Notices of Special Findings against the 12 defendants alleged to have committed murder in aid of the Gangs racketeering affairs. The decision whether or not to seek the death penalty will be made by the Attorney General of the United States based on the recommendations of the U.S. Attorney and after carefully considering each defendants background and the circumstances of his crimes.
The second racketeering indictment charges four alleged SNM Prison Gang members and associates, including three charged in the first racketeering indictment, with conspiring to commit two murders and committing two violent assaults for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing their positions within the SNM Prison Gang.
More than 500 federal, state, county and local law enforcement and corrections officers were involved in the December law enforcement operation. In addition to the arrests, the operation included the execution of 12 federal search warrants in New Mexico and one in Tennessee; a lockdown of three prison facilities in the state for the purpose of conducting cell searches; and more than 50 probation and parole searches throughout the state. The following agencies were involved in the law enforcement operation: Albuquerque Division of the FBI, New Mexico Corrections Department, New Mexico State Police, Bernalillo County Sheriffs Office, Metropolitan Correctional Center, Albuquerque Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, and the El Paso, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas and Knoxville FBI Divisions.
NMCD was among those thanked by the FBI. “Today is a realization towards true public safety and the New Mexico Corrections Department is proud to contribute,” said Jerry Roark, Director of the Adult Prison Division of the New Mexico Corrections Department. “These arrests help us in our mission is to provide safer prisons for those in our care.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Addressing Recidivism


The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

Recidivism, in a public safety context, can be defined as the reversion of an individual to criminal behavior after he or she has been convicted of a prior offense, sentenced, and (presumably) corrected. Recidivism data is gathered from the NMCD Criminal Management Information System (CMIS), which contains over 1400 tables with hundreds of thousands rows of data. Although due diligence has been applied to assure the accuracy of reported data (despite the cumbersome and antiquated nature of current offender management software), the Corrections Department has confidence that outcomes reported are as comprehensive as possible with minimal margin of error. To best inform your decisions as a state leader, the department shall outline a handful of cautions when considering criminal justice outcomes and comparing the work of our state against others.          

how is Recidivism calculated?
Recidivism, or post release criminality, is the outcome measure used most frequently in evaluating correctional programs and organizations. Some consider recidivism to be the sole criterion for assessing both. But if used indiscriminately, without regard for its appropriateness or limitations, it could misinform public safety policy decisions. Most of us are generally aware of what recidivism is (or should be), but haven't considered the issue in depth. Our lack of in-depth knowledge about recidivism may be best illustrated when we consider the differences between how those who do research on correctional effectiveness, those who compute recidivism statistics for administrative purposes, and those who merely read of such statistics perceive and value the calculations that inform our policy decisions. It’s important to note that no consistent definition of recidivism currently exists for the variety of programs and states across our nation. For example, outcome measures for programs, as well as those used by different states, may involve a follow-up time of 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years. Moreover, follow-up time computations may start with release from prison in one state or program, and be defined as release from community supervision (probation and/or parole) in others. Additionally, recidivating events may be defined as technical violations of the conditions of community supervision or arrest on a new charge in particular programs and/or states, while driven exclusively by return to prison in others. To further compound these inconsistencies, for some time now, in our attempts to measure outcomes and allocate our state’s resources, our lack of awareness of these issues, we have reported recidivism on annual, even quarterly intervals.

To inform your decisions as a state leader, please note that our rate is calculated when a distinct offender who is released, returns to prison within the time-period specified. We calculate this in the same way that NMSC, BJS and NIC do, which is a return to prison within a three-year period. It remains important to note that assumptions relating to the effectiveness of New Mexico’s correctional operations must take into account that the time interval for measurement is the sum of: release to arrest, arrest to hearing, hearing to trial, trial to sentencing, and sentencing to recommitment. Simply put, offenders must first undergo programming and complete their sentence(s) to initiate the three-year follow-up period. As a result, evaluation of correctional programs is a multi-year, not an annual, process.

The organization and predictability of the work done within our prisons and neighborhoods is essential, not only to smooth and secure operations, but to evoke effective outcomes for our public safety responsibilities.  As testified to over the last two years, the department’s current offender management system is antiquated and inadequately captures and tracks data relating to the variety of correctional processes. Moreover, the software is at end of life, as Microsoft no longer offers upgrades and maintenance for the platform. Because, undoubtedly, if New Mexico harness the potential of more effective recidivism data collection, we will become better positioned to measure and improve our performance; use money more wisely and enforce accountability. Your attention and support in replacing this system is more important than ever.


NMCD has been proactive in offering inmates the opportunity to educate and rehabilitate themselves. Whether the programming is adult basic education, advanced education, or job skills needed to re-integrate and be a productive member of society, NMCD has made significant efforts in reducing recidivism and investing in evidence-based programming. NMCD Recidivism Reduction is currently working with PEW MacArthur foundation on a compilation of a program inventory. Once this phase is complete, the NMCD will be utilizing information garnered from the Clearinghouse from PEW MacArthur to determine if programs are evidence based, in order to make determinations for successful programming and funding.


1.      Reducing its use of segregation from approximately almost 12% of the total inmate population to a recent low of 6.5%. This rate fluctuates depending on security risks. NMCD is on track in terms of our original goal of 5%. Through the implementation of a step down program, inmates are no longer released straight from segregation to our communities.

2.      Implementation of RDAP, an evidence based drug and alcohol program, which is now delivered with fidelity to a greater number of inmates.

3.      The growth of educational programming. We have 54 different programs involving over 4700 inmates.

4.      Development of a policy, which now requires that 75% of programming offered must be evidence-based. All of Probation and Parole Division programs are evidence-based.

5.      Providing a greater number of inmates opportunities to actively work in a now-increased number of Corrections Industries programs, which range from kitchen and warehouse management to horticulture, and landscaping.

6.      Working to increase understanding among inmates about the relationship between access to healthcare and re-socialization. Each of them is given the opportunity to apply for Medicaid before leaving prison.

7.      Ensuring that sexual offenders, who have at least five years or less to their date of release, now undergo specialized evidence based treatment in their own special management unit.

8.      Requiring that inmates, in order to earn good time, pursue education with GED as their goal.

9.      PPD (Probation and Parole Division) supervising offenders where they work and live, in lieu of the traditional office reporting of the past.

10. Making sure that NMCD is now 100% PREA compliant.

What is the Recidivism Reduction Division?

Undoubtedly, recidivism is an important part of the story of success post-incarceration. But so is education. So is employment. So is health. If states only collect recidivism data to track adult correctional outcomes, which many do, they leave out these crucial metrics. Accordingly, the Recidivism Reduction Division, as well as our entire organization is committed to providing quality academic, cognitive, family reunification, post-secondary (college), reentry, and vocational programs, healthcare and access to it post release, as well as library and legal access services to incarcerated individuals. We are committed to the ethical pursuit of educational excellence as we assist incarcerated individuals to become responsible members of the family, workforce, and community upon release. 

By understanding these realities, the Recidivism Reduction Division works to deliver high-quality   educational programming, through teamwork, dedication, and collaboration with other departments, agencies, and the community at large. 

Under the direction of RRD, the Education Bureau provides Adult Basic Education and Adult Secondary Education skills preparation for GED testing, career/technical and college readiness with Special Education and adult literacy assistance. Instructional methods include classroom, one-to-one, and small group instruction, community volunteer and peer tutoring, computer-aided instruction, cell-to-cell instruction, and educational television. 

The Education Bureau also provides the identification and special education services for all individuals under age 22 who qualify as Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) eligible by state and federal regulations. The Education Department assures all qualified students are provided appropriate education according to state and federal mandates.


   The Cuffs to Cufflinks program was implemented and expanded to six facilities, which is designed to assist our returning citizens with transition back into their communities by providing donated professional attire to reenter the workforce upon release. 

   Provided Adult Basic Education and Adult Secondary Education instruction to 3,543 inmates statewide and assisted 227 inmates to attempt their GED Test. Out of the 227 attempts, 109 inmates obtained their GED, a 64% pass rate. 

   Of the 3,543 inmates, the National Reporting System for Adult Education reported 1,296 inmates who had completed a minimum of 11 hours of Adult Basic Education or Adult Secondary Education instruction and were provided a pre and post tests to assess their educational needs 701inmates (54%) had a TABE level gain (grade level) and 595 inmates (85%) of the 701 had a TABE level gain (grade level) of more than one level.

   Collaborated with PB&J Family Services to provide the following Gender Specific Programs for our female inmates: Therapeutic Visitation, Parenting Reentry/Family Reunification and Heeling Hearts Dog Rescue

   Collaborated with the Amity Foundation to provide the Gender Specific population the La Entrada Offender Reentry Program for our female inmates

   Collaborated with the Matt 25, Life Skills Learning Center to provide the Learning to Live, Learning to Love cognitive program for male inmates at the Roswell Correctional Center

   Collaborated with Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and Mesalands Community College to provide courses offered via correspondence, computer-based and distance learning.  Certificates leading to labor market driven occupations are awarded. In addition, Associate of Arts degrees in Business Administration, University Studies, Liberal Arts and Applied Sciences are awarded.

   Collaborated with the New Mexico Livestock Board to provide an Equine Rescue vocational program for male inmates at the Springer Correctional Center

   Collaborated with the Joni & Friends International Disability Center to provide the Wheels for the World, Wheelchair Restoration shop for male inmates at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility

   Collaborated with the Social Security Administration to provide the process of requesting a reprint of their social security card for inmates at the following facilities

   Collaborated with the New Mexico Public Education Department and the Central Regional Educational Cooperative to provide specialty education services to inmates at all eleven (11) correctional facilities

   Collaborated with Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell to provide Library Support Services for all eleven (11) correctional facilities

   In addition to basic education, other forms of programming under RRD include:

   Cognitive: Programs assist offenders in recognizing destructive behavior patterns and developing positive, pro-social thinking habits in all areas of their lives. 

   Family Reunification:

   Programs that prepare offenders and their families for successful reunification after incarceration which include parenting skills, family literacy, and child support management. 

   Post-Secondary (College):

   Courses are offered via correspondence and computer-based, distance learning. Certificates leading to labor market driven occupations are awarded. In addition, Associate of Arts degrees in Business Administration and University Studies from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell are awarded. Mesalands Community College awards Associate of Arts degrees in Liberal Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees.       

   Reentry: Transitional/career advisement programming is offered at every prison to all inmates through pre-release programming. The introduction of Making the Right Turn to Reentry curriculum has greatly enhanced pre-release. This evidenced based curriculum will be modified in the coming year to better serve the needs of releasing inmates and returning citizens reflecting the diverse culture and society that in New Mexico.

   Vocational: Provide vocational programming in a variety of career-technical fields to qualified inmates. This programming is intended to meet the needs of the inmate population and to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to acquire viable, meaningful, and career oriented employment upon release.

   NMCD directs all Classification Officers to strongly encourage inmates who have thirty days to the door to sign up for Medicaid in preparation for their release. The inmate can sign up online via Yes New Mexico.

   In July 2015, NMCD joined with Project ECHO to collaborate on treatment for Hepatitis C. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a collaborative model of medical education and care management. From July, 2015 to early January, 2016, NMCD has treated 26 patients. Of those 26, the virus is now undetectable in 9. In FY17, NMCD is projecting to treat 150 people. Project ECHO has a training program for peer educators within facilities that is geared toward the prevention of infectious diseases, including Hepatitis C.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Population Growth



The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

New Mexico’s prisons will be at 98% capacity in the immediate future. The female population has increased dramatically in recent years, and projections have been inaccurate.

Change in Male
Change in Female

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sex Offender Supervision Model


The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.
when does a sex offender begin to receive treatment in prison?
NMCD believes that reentry begins on the first day of incarceration. Therefore, NMCD sex offenders begin to receive sex offender specific services as soon as they are incarcerated. While in prison, sex offenders are housed in special management pods. Those incarcerated for a sex offense begin receiving sex offender services at the onset of their incarceration and continue receiving services throughout their term of probation or parole. Once released from prison (or when sentenced to probation), all sex offenders are referred to a special management unit of probation and parole, the sex offender unit. Once assigned to a Probation/Parole Officer from the sex offender unit, that Probation/Parole Officer provides each offender with a referral for an assessment by a sex offender specific counselor to determine risk factor and address the specific needs of the offender (relapse prevention / sex offender counseling / substance abuse / victim empathy / domestic violence / anger management).

what kinds of services do they receive?

While in prison, sex offenders have the opportunity to participate in The sex offender Treatment Program (SOTP). This program is a one-year psycho-educational and counseling program with an ultimate goal of reducing likelihood of committing another sex offense.

SOTP begins by using a validated risk assessment in order to target each persons specific treatment needs. The program is very intensive--with inmates receiving services for 24 hours per week throughout the year. The program follows an evidence-based curriculum, and includes 7 phases: taking responsibility, behavioral techniques, victim empathy, sexual education, anger management, and relapse prevention techniques. Everyone who completes the program leaves with a discharge summary, including recommendations for aftercare and their individualized relapse prevention plan. Program evaluation has shown that only 3-4% of those who complete SOTP return to prison on a new sex offense.
What does the sex offender unit do?
The mission of the sex offender unit is to ensure public safety and reduce the risk of recidivism by aiding in a successful reintegration into society through a focus on treatment and counseling. Successful completion of supervision can provide an excellent foundation for an independent and law abiding life after supervision. The New Mexico Corrections Department created the sex offender unit in 2004. It is responsible for statewide supervision of sex offenders. This unit employs specially trained staff and enforces a variety of supervision conditions which are unique to sex offenders. The supervision of the sex offender unit includes referrals to sex offender specific counseling and treatment providers, evidence-based sex offender risk assessments, individualized case management, frequent compliance checks, search and seizure, GPS monitoring and surveillance, drug and alcohol testing, registration and notification, victim advocacy and notification, computer monitoring, computer forensic examinations, and participation in polygraph examinations. The sex offender unit assists offenders in their reintegration by focusing on a stable residence and consistent employment which allows the offenders to become independent and reduce their change of reoffending. If an offender does not comply with any of the terms of their supervision, the sex offender unit attempts to correct the behavior through increased counseling and treatment services, community service and short term periods of incarceration to redirect the offenders thinking. If the offender chooses to not take full advantage of the services offered to them and remains non-compliant, they may be returned to confinement to serve the remainder of their sentence.

is there transitional housing for sex offenders?
Sex offenders are faced with unique residency restrictions which can make it difficult to obtain housing. At times, an offender may have a supportive family willing to take them in after their period of incarceration. However, these residences are not always acceptable based off proximity to schools, parks, daycares, or other places where children congregate. This increases the number of homeless sex offenders. Although homelessness is a nationwide concern, homelessness provides unique challenges to sex offenders under supervision. Sex offenders are required to be on active GPS bracelets. Without electricity or reliable locations to charge the GPS equipment, supervision becomes more challenging. It is the goal of the sex offender unit to have no homeless offenders in the Albuquerque area.

In New Mexico, sex offenders are not required to live in Transitional Housing. If an offender has a supportive and suitable family environment to return to, they should do so. Offenders who transition from prison into a family home tend to have a higher success rate due to the emotional and financial support offered from their families. However, several factors are at play in this: community of origin, victim location and safety, and offender needs and safety. If residency restrictions exist, the family is not supportive, or if living with family would not be conducive to success while on supervision, NMCD has a contract with a transitional housing vendor which can provide housing as a last resort. NMCD currently has a contract which provides sex offenders housing in the Albuquerque area. Albuquerque provides great proximity to services, jobs, education, and public transportation. If that location would not be suitable due to victim proximity, lack of family ties to the community, or other limitations, NMCD also has a contract with Eagles Unlimited which could provide non-contracted housing in other parts of the state. Eagles funding will only be offered towards a lease agreement when an offender has reasonable means to continue meeting the financial obligations of that lease once Eagles funding has ceased. It is the ultimate goal of NMCD to place an offender in a living environment where they have the best chance of success. In addition to the contracted transitional housing described above, the sex offender unit has partnered with numerous private apartment owners who provide exclusive rental rights to sex offenders who are employed.
how are sex offenders supervised upon release?

In Albuquerque, the Bernalillo Sheriff's Office and the Albuquerque Police Department have assigned 7 Officers to work specifically with sex offender registration and tracking (SORT). There is also a Special Victims unit sponsored by the Sheriff's Department. This special team of Officers works closely with our sex offender unit to help ensure offenders compliance with the rules and regulations as well as investigating new sexual crimes that may occur. This close partnership with law enforcement creates a well-rounded team interested in the success and compliance of offenders throughout the Albuquerque area.
In addition to working collaboratively with outside agencies to help ensure our offenders success, NMCD also works well within its own organization. Our prisons follow a unit management approach, which assigns each inmate to a case manager. These case managers frequently work together with probation and parole throughout the release planning process to ensure a seamless transition into society. Sex offenders are required to be on active GPS bracelets.

Is Providing treatment to sex offenders is too costly and/or ineffective?
Many misconceptions exist about sex offenders. These misconceptions come from a lack of education regarding sex offenders and help drive fear. The New Mexico Corrections Department is committed to providing accurate facts and truthful information to help New Mexicans understand the intensity of supervision and services offered to sexual offenders, and the work that the New Mexico Corrections Department does to support public safety. Treatment for sex offenders has been shown to reduce their recidivism rate, which can help save tax payers substantial imprisonment costs.
Are Most sex offenses are committed by strangers to the victim?
Most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.

Do Most sex offenders continuously reoffend throughout their lives?
Recidivism data suggests that this is not the case.

The New Mexico Corrections Department is committed to reducing criminal recidivism. A key element of reducing recidivism is to ensure that our programs are evaluated and that our treatment services are evidence based. Relating to outpatient sex offender counseling and treatment services, NMCD only contracts with providers who utilize evidence based practices.

Below, is a list of all contracted providers for probation and parole:

Contracted Provider Name
Areas Serviced
Agave Health
Bernalillo, Valencia, Cibola, and Sandoval Counties
A New Awakening
Bernalillo County/Albuquerque
Albuquerque Behavioral Health
Bernalillo County/Albuquerque
Canyon Light
City of Alamogordo, County of Otero
Community Education Centers
Los Lunas, NM & Albuquerque
Cottonwood Clinical Services
San Juan County
Crossroads for Women
Valencia and Bernalillo Counties
Eagles Unlimited
All of New Mexico
Human Resource Development Ass.
Colfax, Taos, Mora, San Miguel, Rio Arriba Counties
Interfaith Leap
All Counties and Cities of New Mexico
Journeys/Paso Nuevo
Bernalillo, Sandoval and Valencia Counties
La Clinica De Familia (La Frontera)
Las Cruces, NM
La Posada
Nava Counseling Services
Las Cruces, NM
NM Solutions
Counties:  San Juan, McKinley, Cibola, Socorro, Luna, Otero, Eddy
The Life Link
Santa Fe County
Transition For Living
Bernalillo County
Valle Del Sol
Raton, Taos, Espanola, Bernalillo pueblo, Grants, Moriarty, and Los Lunas