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N.M. House Votes to Allow Judges to Send Offenders to Treatment, Not Jail

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A sentencing-reform bill aimed at drug offenders has passed the New Mexico House of Representatives after initially being rejected, the New Mexico Independent reported Feb. 16.

Four days after rejecting a proposal to allow judges to send defendants to addiction-treatment programs rather than jail, four House members changed their votes and threw their support behind the measure. Five other members who were not present for the first vote also backed the bill, while two earlier supporters decided to vote against the hotly debated measure.

“It’s not a crime to be an addict. It’s a crime to posses a drug. We need to attack the root cause of the crime, which is the addiction,” said sponsor Rep. Antonio Maestas.

The bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

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