SANTA FE – A bill sponsored by Rep. Nate Gentry (R-Bernalillo) to reform New Mexico’s “three strikes” law advanced Friday through the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee on a unanimous vote. The legislation, House Bill 54, moves next to the House Judiciary Committee.
Gentry’s bill would expand the list of offenses that would qualify violent repeat offenders for mandatory life sentencing. Currently, only five crimes are included in the existing three strikes law. The list is so excessively narrow that no criminal has ever been prosecuted under the statute since it was enacted in 1994.
“Lawmakers must close the revolving door for these most violent criminals in the justice system,” Gentry said. “The current law is so ineffective that it’s never been used. We need to equip our prosecutors with better tools to reduce crime and stop these violent repeat felons who have proven through their history of violent criminal acts to be beyond rehabilitation.”
The bill is also referred to as “Lilly’s Bill” in memory of Lilly Garcia, a four-year-old Albuquerque girl who lost her life as a result of a violent road rage incident in 2015. Her family has previously testified many times in support of similar legislation.
After the committee hearing, Lilly’s mother Veronica Rael-Garcia said, “I’m glad that the committee passed House Bill 54. I am hopeful that this bill will become law this year.”
Similar legislation passed the House twice last year, once during the regular session and once during the special session in September 2016, but died in the Senate both times.