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Corrections handling 1 in 35

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By Ralph Damiani

The Assosicated Press had disturbing story this week. It stated that 3 percent of our fellow residents are part of the corrections system.

That is scary.

New Mexico has seen a steady increase in people on probation and parole in recent years, reflecting a national trend, according to a report.

The Pew Center on the States says that nationwide, the number of people on probation or parole nearly doubled to more than 5 million between 1982 and 2007.

The New Mexico Department of Corrections reported 19,600 people on probation and parole in fiscal year 2008 and 6,300 people in six public and four privately contracted prisons. It said the number of people entering prison in fiscal year 2008 declined, and the total number of inmates dropped by 3 percent.

However, the number of people on probation and parole grew more than 3 percent between 1998 and 2007, the department said.

New Mexico is looking more toward probation and community programs rather than prison, Gail Oliver, deputy secretary for prisoner re-entry and prison reform. Even most people sent to prison will spend part of their sentence on parole, she said.


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