In the latest story from the CJ Project, Mary Hudetz reports on a recent order from Albuquerque police chief to scale back on minor, nonviolent offenses. Criminal justice reform advocates nationwide have focused on reducing arrests and prosecutions for non-violent infractions — including panhandling, prostitution and marijuana possession — which they say disproportionately affect the homeless, people with mental illness and minorities. Once jailed, many struggle to pay the bail set for them and suspects often remain locked up for days or weeks. In other areas, reforms appear to be taking hold. Last month, District Attorney Raul Torrez in Bernalillo County, which includes the city of Albuquerque, said his office would begin declining certain non-violent misdemeanor cases, allowing local prosecutors to focus on more serious crimes.The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico applauded what it called the decriminalization of minor and nonviolent offenses. Although reforms are slowly taking place, the group still has concerns about how the directive will be followed over time.
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