Friday, November 23, 2012
Lincoln the Movie See It
Lincoln the movie wow! I must have been sick that day in social studies/history class, I totally forgot that President Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. A republican who believed in equality and justice. No one is equal until we are all equal, what a concept.
"As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it, "All men are created equal, except Negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, "All men are created equal except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some other country where they make no pretense of loving liberty - to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, without the base alloy of hypocrisy." Abraham Lincoln 16th President of USA
Where have we gone as a people? We just go along to get along. Is there any courage displayed by anyone today to tackle the problems at hand?
Think of what we could do if someone would lead. How about the Equal Rights Amendment for starters for a quick recap of the ERA see this link. Why not have women be equal?
How about full equality for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender people? One of the most touching parts of the movie was when Republican Thaddeus Stevens went home to his biracial lover, and housekeeper and brought her the 13th amendment document for her to read to him in bed. Ah the secrets we humans keep?
How about stopping the military machine and have our service people come back to this country. Talk about years and years of senseless killing. Check out the arm to arm brutal battles of the Civil War, reenacted in the movie, maybe if we still fought like this we would stop. Let's stop funding the military machine. Stop funding the greed of war. Hey we are going broke funding this war machine, there are no more jobs, all the money is gone. We are still funding the Aghan war to the tune of 1 to 2 bil per week. Per week! Imagine this money here, where on earth is this money going? Does anyone else see a connection to our deficit?
Not to say that the 13th Amendment was the end all for equal rights for our African American citizens. Far far from it, the battle for equal rights for all continues well into the 21st century. When will the people who control all the power, which is old white men, let's face it, when will they give up some of their greed and power to other humans?
We need real leaders with real soul and spirit. We need to hold our elected leaders accountable NOW.
PS. Yes it is remarkable and showing of our progress as a people to have President Obama elected for his second term in 2012. But we learned in his first term that we have got to keep bearing pressure on him. He is partly the resulting dream of President Lincoln, now let President Obama be a leader for all of us. Lead the Congress, lead us out of our current wars, lead equality for all, lead the fight for all to be educated, lead the fight of our equal justice in this country. Lead the fight against greed.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Michelle Hernandez for Supreme Court
Native New Mexican Michelle Hernandez will seek election to the New Mexico Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Patricio Serna.
Michelle grew up in Taos, Gallup and Albuquerque. Living under modest circumstances, she learned the value of hard work and a great education. She has deep family roots throughout New Mexico.
Michelle graduated from the University of New Mexico, magna cum laude, attended the University of California Los Angeles law school, and received a scholarship in recognition for pioneering women in the law.
Following law school, Michelle served as a judicial clerk for the Supreme Court and Justice Joseph F. Baca where she assisted in numerous opinions. Justice Baca and Michelle became lifelong friends, and he has endorsed her candidacy. As a law clerk, she worked on several landmark decisions including the Johnson case, where the Court held former Governor Gary Johnson in contempt of court for unlawfully forcing poor people off public assistance.
In endorsing Michelle, Justice Baca said, "I have known Michelle Hernandez since she was my law clerk in 1997. I am proud to call her my good friend. She is uniquely qualified to serve on our Supreme Court. She works hard, listens to people and is a brilliant lawyer. She cares deeply about her community and will make an excellent Supreme Court Justice."
After working at the Supreme Court, Michelle began a career at the prestigious Modrall Sperling Law firm where she gained valuable experience as an appellate and trial attorney. She has become a nationally recognized expert in complex health care law matters. She also represented women seeking to escape abusive relationships.
Michelle believes her hands-on experience at the Supreme Court, combined with her many years in private practice make her an excellent candidate for New Mexico's highest court. "The Supreme Court needs Justices who have been in the trenches representing clients, and who have been involved in drafting opinions. I bring a unique combination of both to the job."
Michelle is active in her community, having worked on democratic campaigns, as a Member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and as a founding director of Emerge New Mexico.
On August 25, the New Mexico Democratic Party State Central Committee will select a candidate for Supreme Court, who will appear on the November ballot opposite whomever Governor Martinez appoints to fill the vacancy. Michelle draws on her humble beginnings and her hard working family as inspiration.
"I was born in Albuquerque, but my family is from Taos, which is where I started school. Growing up my father worked as a high school teacher, laid adobes in the summer and later managed fast food restaurants. After living in a trailer in Gallup for a short time, we moved back to Albuquerque, and I graduated from Del Norte High School. My mother returned to work outside the house after I graduated and retired from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union as a secretary about four years ago. I will never forget my responsibility to remember those who are working their way out of poverty like my parents did."
At UNM, Michelle served as a recruiter for the Minority Recruitment and Retention Office. She served on the local advance team for the Clinton Gore Campaign for several events.
Michelle was active at UCLA as member of the La Raza Law Students Association. She advocated for the admission of Latino law students and worked against the discriminatory California ballot propositions of the mid-1990s.
Michelle was inspired to run by Justice Baca's and Justice Serna's humble beginnings, love of New Mexico and enormous achievements. She looks to Justice Petra Maes as a trailblazer and the first Latina Justice of the Supreme Court.
Friday, June 01, 2012
Release the Public's Funds Pronto! by Lora Lucero
Following post is by contributing writer Lora Lucero.
As many have heard, PRC candidate Cynthia B. Hall won a writ of mandamus Thursday evening.
The court ordered the Secretary of State to release the matching funds required by state law if a privately-financed opponent outspends a publicly-financed candidate. In Hall's case, Al Park is privately financing his bid for the PRC to the tune of 4:1 over Hall's publicly-financed campaign.
Although the writ of mandamus technically only applies to Cynthia Hall's campaign, I called the Secretary of State this morning and urged her to release the matching funds to ALL publicly-financed candidates. PRONTO!
The Secretary of State's toll free number is 1-800-477-3632.
I hope everyone who wants to see money out of politics will do the same.
The following is the press release issued from Cynthia Hall's campaign:
Chief Judge Barbara Vigil Orders NM Secretary of State to Follow the Law
Albuquerque, NM – May 31, 2012
This afternoon, Presiding Judge Barbara Vigil ordered NM Secretary of State Dianna J. Duran to follow the law and release matching funds to Cynthia B Hall, publicly-funded Democratic candidate for the PRC in District 1.
The Secretary of State, contrary to the mandate of New Mexico's Voter Action Act, had withheld matching funds from Hall and other publicly-funded candidates for several weeks.
Last week, in response to the Secretary’s refusal to release the funds, Hall filed a Temporary Restraining Order and Amended Petition for Writ of Mandamus.
Judge Vigil signed the Writ of Mandamus filed by Hall and ordered the Secretary of State to comply forthwith. The Judge also instructed Hall to file a new Writ of Mandamus tomorrow if the Secretary of State continues to withhold the funds. The Secretary of State’s office said they would notify Hall if they decide not to follow the Judge’s orders.
The Secretary of State still faces a federal matching funds lawsuit. In the last few days the Republican Party of New Mexico, the New Mexicans for Economic Recovery PAC, and PRC Candidate Al Park teamed up in federal court. They sought to prohibit the Secretary of State from releasing the matching funds. These Plaintiffs, along with Intervenor Al Park, cited Citizens United in their assertion that the release of matching funds would infringe upon the free speech rights of private and corporate donors.
During today’s hearing, the judge did not allow Al Park or any other candidates to intervene in the lawsuit.
This represents a victory for the Hall campaign as well as for other publicly financed candidates in the state, such as Karen Montoya and Judge Victor Lopez of Albuquerque.
For the moment, the matching funds provision of New Mexico’s Public Financing Law has been upheld. This could also mean protection for matching funds as provided for in Municipal elections in places like Albuquerque.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Great News for Love Today, CA Appeals Court Finds Prop 8 Unconstitutional
I only wish Barb was here to revel in this victory for love with me. We must keep on pushing for civil rights for all. Let's not have other couples loose each other in death prior to celebrating their lives together in love and commitment.
I am going to link to a few articles that explain the history and the ruling today in detail.
The NOH8 campaign is a website specifically designed to follow California Prop 8, you can find the coverage here.
American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER)is leading the fight for the freedom to marry and equality under the law, AFER is the sole organizational sponsor of the groundbreaking federal court case to overturn California's Proposition 8.
And the Courage Campaign. Adding to the information today that the opponents were trying to get Judge Walker thrown of the case cause he is gay, but no on that measure as well. From the Prop 8 Trial tracker:
Prop8TrialTracker.com has received the 9th Circuit’s opinion in Perry v. Brown that Proposition 8, the 2008 voter-enacted ban on marriage equality in California, is unconstitutional. In addition, the appeals panel ruled that the proponents of Prop 8 did have standing to pursue their appeal of Judge Walker’s decision striking down the marriage ban, and upheld District Court Judge Ware’s decision denying a stay to throw out Walker’s ruling because he is gay. The ruling on constitutionality was divided on an 2-1 vote, with Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Michael Hawkins voting to strike Prop 8 down, and Judge N. Randy Smith voting to uphold the ban. The ruling regarding standing and the motion to throw out Judge Walker’s decision was a unanimous 3-0 vote
The Decision can be read following this here.Read up NM State Rep.Chavez, who is currently embarking on his own Prop 8 look alike for the State of NM. Chavez has proposed legislation regarding outlawing marriage of loving couples. He too wants to put love out to a vote to New Mexicans to change the Constitution saying marriage is illegal for same sex couples, and Chavez goes further to say that anyone in another state who is married is not welcome here with their marriage. Is this what New Mexico is about? This diverse state? This matter is being challenged through the courts, and the answer is coming out the same, lesbians and gay men have a right to marry. Marriage is a piece of paper which joins two in love and commitment in the eyes of society.
Also, here is a message to the Legacy Church Pastor Mr. Smothermon: The LGBT community also has a right to work, anywhere we want to work. Take note protoge Dan Lewis running for Congressional District 1.
Next will be the United States Supreme Court, I am sure the haters will not quit on this one.
This used to be a good ole chant: We're here, we're queer, get used to it!
DFNM has done several other posts while following this campaign of hate. See one here.
Monday, September 26, 2011
ACLU of New Mexico Announces Award Recipients
Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico is pleased to announce the recipients of the organization’s annual awards. Each year, the ACLU of New Mexico honors an attorney and an activist for their outstanding civil liberties work in the State of New Mexico. The awards will be presented as part of the 49th annual Bill of Rights Celebration on Saturday, October 22, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
The 2011 Cooperating Attorney Award goes to Mark D. Fine of the Fine Law Firm for his work defending the rights of female inmates in the New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility (NMWCF) in Grants, NM. Fine currently represents three women who allege that a male employee sexually assaulted them while they were inmates. The suit also seeks to hold NMWCF accountable for retaliation against the victims after they reported the incidents.
The 2011 Guardian of Liberty Award goes to two people this year, James Walker and Steven De Los Santos, both recently graduated from Clovis High School. Despite resistance from the community and deliberate obstruction by the Clovis school board, Walker and De Los Santos successfully established the school’s first-ever Gay-Straight Alliance.
Students had attempted several times in the past to establish the club, whose mission is to promote tolerance, reduce bullying and encourage dialogue, but were continually rebuffed by the administration. Because of their courageous and determined stand, Walker and De Los Santos leave as their legacy a safe, supportive place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students at Clovis High.
Walker is currently a freshman at the University of New Mexico and De Los Santos is studying at New Mexico State University.
The Bill of Rights Celebration and awards ceremony are open to the public. Tickets are available online at aclu-nm.org. The event will take place at Salón Ortega at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
No More Injustice: The Executions of Troy Davis and Willie McGee
This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
It's a tricky business, this politically charged issue of capital punishment. On the one hand are the victims of crime, who understandably seek emotional closure over the shattering of their lives, and the loss of their loved ones, usually under terrible circumstances. On the other side, as the execution last night of Troy Anthony Davis despite nagging questions as to his guilt reminds us, is the troubling reality that our legal system is never foolproof, disproportionally penalizes the poor and historically has targeted minority communities. Without minimizing the suffering of the victims, the historical parallels -- as in the case of Davis -- to a dark American past, ought be cause for all of us to consider the issues of his case, the application of the law and deeper questions of justice and injustice.
Just over sixty years ago, on May 8, 1951, Willie McGee, an African American laborer, was executed by the State of Mississippi despite a lack of evidence that he had committed any crime. Thanks to the efforts of one southern writer, William Faulkner, and others who soon joined his cause, McGee's case was one of the few capital punishment cases in the Jim Crow era that ever rose to international attention. The false charge against Willie McGee became one of the models for the fictionalized case against the character Tom Robinson in Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. McGee's case was revisited by the award-winning New Mexico writer Alex Heard last year in his book, The Eyes of Willie McGee. The history of abuse of the law is as troubling today as it was then.
McGee's trial lasted less than three hours. The all-white jury deliberated only two-and-a-half minutes before sentencing McGee to death. In the appeals that followed, a crusading young lawyer from New York, and a future Congresswoman, Bella Abzug, fought for clemency for her client, Willie McGee.
In the last days of McGee's life, the Mississippi Supreme Court refused to hear Abzug's appeal, and the Governor refused to meet with her; the hotels in Jackson, Mississippi refused to house her. In the final days just before McGee's execution, Bella Abzug was forced to spend the night crouched down and hiding in a locked bathroom stall of the Jackson, Mississippi Greyhound bus station while a band of racist thugs searched for her. Bella Abzug's legal crusade never stood a chance. In Willie McGee's Mississippi there were two systems of justice.
Decades after the McGee case, studies have repeatedly shown that race, place and economic status are key factors on who lives and who dies in capital punishment cases. A 2003 University of Maryland study shows that race and geography continue to plague the justice system in death penalty cases. A similar study in North Carolina found similar statistics. Another report, commissioned by the New Jersey Supreme Court, also turned up a similar pattern of capital convictions and helped convince that state's legislature to abolish the death penalty in the Garden State in 2007.
Last night's execution of Troy Davis by the State of Georgia makes painfully clear, once again, that six decades on we still have two systems of justice in the United States. Davis was convicted of the murder of a white police officer in Savannah in 1991. The officer, Mark MacPhail, was gunned down while rushing to the rescue of a homeless man being pistol-whipped in the parking lot of Savannah's Greyhound bus station. The day after the murder, several witnesses told police that Troy Davis was the shooter.
Subsequently, seven of nine eyewitnesses, including the homeless man who was under attack at the bus station that night in 1991, recanted their statements, citing pressure from police in the case. Others implicated Sylvester "Redd" Coles, one of the original so-called "witnesses" to the crime. No physical evidence was ever presented that linked Davis to the crime, and the weopon was never recovered. Yet despite so many doubts in the Davis case, the courts refused to stop the execution that was carried out last night.
With so many questions about what really happened in 1991, Davis's life should have been spared.
"I hear Rosalee, see the eyes of Willie McGee," wrote the haunted African-American playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, in her poem Lynchsong, shortly after the execution that was carried out in Mississippi in 1951. The lines of her poem were a reference to the pleas of Rosalee McGee for the life of her husband. Like the southern writers, William Faulkner, and later Harper Lee, images of injustice were just outside the doorstep and never very far away from the thoughts of Lorraine Hansberry, as well, though she lived far from the Jim Crow south. Her family fought housing segregation in the courts in Chicago, and her circle of friends, including Richard Wright, Langston Hughes and Claude McCay, used their own pens over the whole span of their lifetimes to fight against a double-standard of justice far north of the Mason-Dixon line, where they lived and worked. New York's "Battling" Bella Abzug never stopped fighting for the equal treatment for all, in the courtroom or in Congress.
The rest of us need to pick up the torch and carry on their cause. No more injustice!
It is too late for us to save the life of Troy Davis, but it is never too late to carry on the work to end inequality, and demand equal application of justice for all. We need to abolish the death penalty, nationally, once and for all time, and end that state-sanctioned system of vengeance that disproportionately sentences the poor and the powerless -- while doing nothing to deter crime -- and we need to do it now. For proponents of fairness, last night's action by the State of Georgia against Troy Anthony Davis ought to prove one thing: silence is never an option.
To see more posts by Stephen, visit our archive.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Christy French Guest Blog: We Back Fairness for Judge Murphy
This is a guest blog by Christy French, Chair, Doña Ana County Democratic Party.
As fellow citizens and neighbors in Doña Ana County, we find it necessary to speak out publicly in defense of Judge Mike Murphy. We believe Judge Murphy, a distinguished member of the judiciary, is an innocent man, unjustly accused and, most regrettably, tried and convicted on blogs and in newspapers throughout our state. Make no mistake – this is not an issue of corruption or of a pay-to-play scheme. Rather, this is a political witch hunt being perpetrated by a vindictive former District Attorney who rather than address the challenges facing New Mexico, has appointed herself as the “Prosecutor in Chief” and has enlisted to her side a former candidate for Attorney General who sees this as an opportunity to position himself for some future elective office. In the process, this blatantly political misuse of power is being taken strictly to try and remove an elected Democratic judge from the bench in order to put an appointed Republican on the bench in his stead.
For the sake of educating the public and not misleading them as to the legal process in place, we wish to point out the following: Judges are, in fact, appointed by the governor. But we have a system of review in place in New Mexico which limits the governor from being given carte blanche in his or her appointments, and includes a process in which proposed appointees must meet high standards. The governor can only appoint candidates that have first passed through a rigorous vetting system run by the Judicial Nominating Commission. That commission is made up equally of Democrats and Republicans, lawyers and lay people. The members of the commission must review an exhaustive questionnaire, letters of recommendation from the community, and conduct interviews with the candidates. Only those lawyers deemed to be fully qualified to serve on the bench are then sent as recommendations to the governor for appointment. Even after appointment, a judge must face the voters and run for his position in the next general election. Citizens still get a say as to whether or not they believe any sitting judge is qualified to serve on the bench.
Judge Murphy went through this bipartisan nominating commission process twice, was found qualified both times, and was ultimately appointed his second time around. Prior to his appointment, as a private attorney, he was a board-certified specialist in the area of domestic relations. Even those attorneys who have had an adversarial relationship with him in the courtroom, and opposed him numerous times on many cases, have stated that he was a fair and honest lawyer, a fierce advocate for his clients, and a distinguished attorney. He ran unopposed in his election.
Governor Martinez and her so-called “special prosecutor” want the public to believe that Judge Murphy not only somehow bought his way through the Judicial Nominating Commission (twice), but then also bought his way onto the bench. Even though there is not one shred of evidence to back up these claims, they continue to believe that if they say it enough times, the public will believe it is true. There is an old lawyer adage that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. The public should be aware that a grand jury does not sit in judgment, but is presented only one side of a case – the prosecutor’s side. No evidence is given by the defense; in fact, a defendant’s attorney is not even allowed to be present to represent his client. It should be no surprise that they were able to indict Judge Murphy.
Having gotten their indictment, the current prosecuting cast has not been content to allow the legal system to play out in a court of law, in an open arena where evidence from both sides will be presented and heard, where the public can see and hear the evidence, or lack thereof. Rather they want to publicly arrest Judge Murphy, and try him through carefully placed press-releases. Judge Murphy has pled not guilty, hired an attorney, and is gearing up to fight these charges through a legitimate legal process. That is not enough for the Governor and Matt Chandler, who are abusing their power and have shown themselves to be unable to resist the temptation to throw their self-perceived political muscle around. They want the public to believe that Judge Murphy is a “flight risk” or worse, that he is a danger to himself and the public. These ludicrous accusations have thus far gone unchallenged in the press. We are demanding that fairness, reasonableness, and restraint be applied while this case moves forward.
The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County stands with Judge Murphy. We are confident that justice will prevail. We will continue to challenge the biased actions of Governor Martinez and Mr. Chandler. We will push back against their attempts to publicly humiliate Judge Murphy, their blatant and unfounded assaults on his character and on his reputation, and their willingness to intimidate and bankrupt him in furtherance of their ultimate goal: political control of the judiciary in this County.
These charges stem from hearsay accusations which were first made in 2007. We ask where was our esteemed former District Attorney Ms. Martinez then? According to the investigation, Judge Schultz claims she talked to practically every judge in the state. Yet, it’s only when Martinez moves to the Governor's office that she has acted. Furthermore, we must insist that the press present both sides to the community. Journalists must not be in the business of tainting the reputation of any judge simply because they were appointed by former Governor Richardson.
We also ask these questions: The prosecution is ecstatic that Judge James T. Martin has been temporarily removed from hearing criminal cases, yet Judge Martin is not the target of this investigation. Shouldn’t the same edict be made for Judge Lisa Schultz? She is the prosecution’s star witness but she is hearing criminal cases presented by the same body she is assisting. Shouldn’t she be removed from hearing criminal cases because of her bias? Can anyone honestly buy into the insinuation that every judge had to buy their appointments and that only Judge Schultz was somehow excused? She was appointed by the last governor as well.
We strongly caution the press and the public to apply due diligence and restraint in this case. We are certain that once all the facts are heard in a legitimate court of law, Judge Mike Murphy will be fully exonerated.
This is a guest blog by Christy French.
If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page. Publication of a guest blog does not necessarily mean that we agree or disagree with the points made.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Bingaman, Udall Sponsor Bill to Increase NM's District Court Judgeships
Yesterday, Senator Jeff Bingaman introduced legislation to increase the number of District Court judgeships in New Mexico to help the state deal with its heavy caseload. The bill is cosponsored by Senator Tom Udall, and would authorize new District Court judgeships for the southwest border states based on recommendations made by the Judicial Conference of the Federal Courts, which makes policy decisions for the U.S. courts.
Under the bill, New Mexico would receive an additional permanent judgeship, allow for the conversion of an existing temporary judgeship to permanent and add a temporary judgeship. There are currently seven authorized judgeships for the district of New Mexico.
“Over the last five years, we have significantly increased the number of Border Patrol agents, hired additional prosecutors and enhanced the presence of DEA, FBI and U.S. Marshal Agents throughout the border region. While this has greatly improved security in the border region, it has also put enormous pressure on the federal courts in handling the influx of cases,” Bingaman said.
“It is critical that the federal judiciary has the resources and manpower it needs to dispose of cases in a timely manner and this bill would help District Courts in the southwest border states deal with this burden,” Bingaman concluded.
“Additional resources for border patrol enforcement in New Mexico have increasingly meant higher case loads for our federal courts. This legislation would help ease that pressure by providing the manpower necessary to adjudicate cases in a timely manner that ensures justice for all involved,” Udall said.
The breakdown for the three other south border states would be as follows:
New Permanent Judgeship (P), New Temporary Judgeship (T), Conversion of Existing Temporary Judgeship to Permanent (T/P)
(4P, 1T, T/P)
Northern (4P, 1T)
Eastern (6P, 1T)
Central (8P, 1T, T/P)
Southern (2P, 1T)
Eastern (1P, T/P)
Western (4P, 1T)
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Doña Ana County Democratic Party Chair Issues Statement on Murphy Allegations
On Monday night Christy French, the Doña Ana Democratic Party Chair, issued the following statement regarding allegations against Third Judicial District Judge Mike Murphy:
"Judge Murphy has been a distinguished jurist and had an excellent reputation as a Domestic Relations attorney prior to assuming the bench. At this point, only one side has been heard, and Judge Murphy has a right to his day in court and to defend himself against these allegations. These are serious charges and, if true, they have absolutely no place in New Mexico politics or its judicial system. The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County commits to fully cooperate with any investigation and firmly believes in the Constitution and that a person is innocent until proven guilty. We put our complete trust in the American legal system and are confident that justice will prevail," Christy French said.
Christy French is the elected leader of the Doña Ana County Democratic Party. She was elected to her post last month.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Young Women United: Urge Gov. Martinez to Change the Landscape with Treatment Not Incarceration
This is a guest blog by Adriann Barboa and Micaela Cadena of Young Women United.
As people who work with young women in Albuquerque every day, we are intimately familiar with the landscape of addiction -- its twisting curves, jagged peaks, and endless valleys. In many ways, addiction is the white noise we hear at night, and the background music playing in our earphones by day. It is everywhere.
What does it mean to live in a state where you are more likely to be impacted by addiction than you are to earn a living wage or to graduate from college? It means that virtually every person we know who was born and raised here has a story to tell, about how substance use impacted their lives: their own struggles with drugs, or the struggles of their parents, siblings, partners and friends. Weekly, we hear stories of custody struggles, sexual violence, poverty, and death. But we also hear stories of hope, healing, unity and recovery.
As the economic crisis digs in, day-to-day struggles are getting worse. Often exacerbated by other stresses, we know substance abuse is generational, contagious, and tenacious. Once it has taken root in a family, neighborhood or town it is hard to remove. But we also know that with quality treatment, it is possible to break free.
Last week, the New Mexico legislature passed four bills that could expand access to substance use treatment. Taken together, Senate Bill 232, Senate Bill 321, Senate Bill 354, and Senate Bill 451 will dramatically improve the chances that a person struggling with addiction will be able to access treatment.
Right now, in New Mexico, if you are a substance user and come into contact with the legal system, the only bed you are likely to get is in a jail cell. There is a lack of space in treatment centers, and no incentive, structure or support for judges to get you there. If you are pregnant or a mother, your chances of accessing quality treatment are even worse. Women who are pregnant and seeking help fear prosecution and often don’t reach out. Mothers know they run the risk of losing their children, and often try to get clean on their own, rarely succeeding.
One woman who has thrived in recovery recently told us, “I was in and out of jail for years. I went into jail broken and lost, and came out of jail broken and lost. Finally, I went into treatment and now I feel whole. I can do better for myself, and I want better for myself.”
Now is our chance. If Governor Susana Martinez signs these bills, she can save lives. By making quality treatment accessible, Governor Martinez can unclog the courts and make our communities more vibrant and beautiful. She can make real her promise of “bringing bold change and a brighter future to New Mexico families.”
Right now, sitting on Governor Martinez’s desk are four bills that would do that. Join us in urging her to sign, and help change our landscape.
Adriann Barboa and Micaela Cadena lead Young Women United in Albuquerque, where they each live with their children. Both were born and raised in New Mexico.
If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.
Photo credit: Young Women United.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
2/19: Westside Forum to Feature Retired Judges Angela and Tommy Jewell
From Douglas Long, Westside Forum:
"From the Bar to the Bench and Back -- Musings on Retirement, Mediation, and Life" will be presented by retired husband and wife judges Angela and Tommy Jewell. In part reflective, and in part looking forward to their lives as retired judges, this is their autobiography. These remarkable people will share their stories of a fascinating journey.
The event takes place on Saturday, February 19, at 3:00 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Westside Congregation, 1650 Abrazo Rd. (about a mile west of Unser Blvd, near the corner of Abrazo and Inca) in Rio Rancho. This event is free, and all are welcome.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
State Rep. Moe Maestas Speaks Out for Fullly Funding Domestic Violence Services
Go, rally peeps and Moe! At a domestic violence rally at the State Capitol today Rep. Moe Maestas (D-Albuquerque) took a hard line against Governor Susana Martinez's proposed funding cuts to critical domestic violence services. Maestas, who prosecuted domestic violence cases for 5 years as a Bernalillo County assistant district attorney, pledged to do everything in his power to ensure the dangerous cuts proposed by the Governor are not enacted.
"If domestic violence victims have the courage to stand up to their abusers, then we must find the courage to not cut a single dime of services for those victims," said Rep. Maestas. "Countless studies show that economic recessions like the one we are in now only spur more domestic abuse. There is no better return on government funding than fighting domestic violence and keeping New Mexicans safe in their own homes."
Take Action: Representative Maestas is encouraging leaders and members of the domestic violence community and other concerned citizens to contact the Governor's office and encourage Martinez to fully fund domestic violence services.
Rep. Maestas is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the House Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee and vice-chair of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.