New Mexico Public Defender’s Office Calls for Budget Increase
NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The state’s public defender’s office hopes that a large budget increase will give them a huge raise, add more social workers, and help improve public safety. In a recent session on legislative finance, the office asked state lawmakers for a $ 6.1 million funding increase to help clients facing criminal charges better understand the system and reduce recidivism.
“I believe this will improve public safety as social workers can help develop recommendations for appropriate interim release, treatment options, probation conditions and maintain a connection with our clients at a time when they are open to change. their lives, âNew Mexico Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur said.
Baur says public defense plays an important role for New Mexicans, but is currently underfunded and understaffed statewide. The budget increase would provide four new roles for social workers to address substance abuse, behavior and addiction issues among clients of the system, add eight additional attorneys statewide, and implement eight new case managers in one. new pilot program.
âPeer case managers are people who have used the system before and can speak the language of some of our clients to help them navigate the process and not fail just because they don’t understand what’s going on. “Said Baur.
Bauer adds that social workers and peer case managers will help clients be successful not only when they are in the justice system, but when they exit. He adds that if clients are simply treated without resolving the underlying issues, they are more likely to become repeat offenders in the justice system. The Office of the Public Defender is also asking for a salary increase of $ 35 to $ 50 per hour, which would be equivalent to a salary increase of $ 30,000 per year.