(De)serving Life, a community-led parole preparation, parole advocacy and re-entry project, is preparing to support those affected by new parole reforms in New Mexico. SB 64, the ‘Second Chance’ law, went into effect in June. Part of the project’s job is to support about 75 people through parole hearings that have now opened up, News From The States reports. The Parole Board will start hearing cases in October. Carissa McGee is a re-entry specialist who helped to establish the Community Peer Education Project. She believes (De)serving Life will be able to get the right kind of support to New Mexicans who were handed down long adult sentences for offenses they committed when they were under18.
Stephen Taylor, the project’s executive director, has been a public defender since 2006 both in the New Mexico court system and now the federal one. He said the project will provide direct advocacy in the parole process and work with experts when clients need evaluation, so information about who they are can be presented to the Parole Board. “We want them to re-enter society as safely as possible, and then help them continue their success beyond that,” he said. “Ideally, we want there to be no recidivism.” The new law does not set aside money to do this work, and McGee said (De)serving Life needs funding to do it.