New Mexico: constitutional amendment would move adult probation into the judicial branch; 2013 bill attempted similar move

Over the last several years there have been efforts, in particular those in Massachusetts (in 2011, discussed here) and New Jersey (most recently in 2013, discussed here), to move probation departments out of the judiciary and into the executive branch. Later today New Mexico’s House Government Committee will be hearing a plan to do the opposite.

HJR 14 as introduced would add a single sentence to the state constitution’s judiciary article (Article 6)

The judicial branch shall administer the adult probation services for the state, as provided by law.

Currently the adult probation is under the executive branch’s Corrections Department (N.M. Stat. Ann. ยง 9-3-3)

There is created in the executive branch the “corrections department”. The department shall be a cabinet department and consist of, but not be limited to, six divisions as follows…the adult probation and parole division.

This marks the third session in a row to discuss moving adult probation out of the executive branch.

  • In the 2011/2012 session the House asked for a study (House Memorial 12) of moving the adult probation and parole division into the judiciary. That study never occurred.
  • In the 2013/2014 session HB 572 would have moved adult probation only out of the Corrections Department and into the Administrative Office of the Courts. The bill failed to advance out of committee.