Victims Speak

This page contains letters about New Mexico SB 247 from NOVJM members. Most of the letters on this page were written by victims in New Mexico who would be impacted by SB 247. We urge visitors to our website to read the concerns of victims.

Bill re-victimizes victims

Read here.

Letters to the editor: On juvenile parole bill

Las Cruces Sun-News

March 7, 2021

These letters published in the March 7, 2021 print edition of the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Oppose SB 247

John Gamble was convicted of murdering my son Joseph and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Nowhere on this court document does it say 15 years before parole. Gamble murdered Joseph at 16. At 16 people know right from wrong. Gamble was found competent to stand trial and is responsible for his crimes.

This was premeditated murder. One week beforehand, Joseph, 15, told me he was scared of Gamble and his brother. They were telling people they would grab Joseph, beat him, and light him on fire. I looked Joseph in the eyes and told him I would protect him.

Gamble lured Joseph, bought gas, took Joseph to a remote location, beat him with his hands, and then tried to shoot Joseph. The rifle misfired so he beat Joseph with the rifle stock until it broke off. Gamble lit Joseph’s body on fire. Gamble bragged about this to his friends. He confessed that he murdered Joseph because he was mad that Joseph lied to him. What will happen when Gamble is in the real world and gets “mad”? Are you willing to have this murderer living next to you, your children, or grandchildren?

I cannot sleep at night or concentrate enough to finish a degree. I rarely go out at night. I failed Joseph by not protecting him. I can’t relive this after 15 years and every two years afterward. SB 247 is devastating to me and my family. Gamble was a juvenile at the time he committed murder, not a child or kid. For the sake of the victims, please oppose this bill. If I can save parents from the agony and despair I endure daily, I will try my best. Do not fail our children by exposing them to criminals who prey on the vulnerable.

Cathy Flores, Carlsbad

New Mexico SB247 – Survivor of Clovis Library Shooting

March 4, 2021

Dear Editor,

My name is Jessica Thron, and I am a survivor of the mass shooting that took place at Clovis-Carver Public Library. On August 28, 2017, a 16-year-old came into my workplace with a backpack containing two handguns and multiple magazines. He was angry with the world for being suspended from school and decided people needed to pay — with their lives. He overslept that day, so he didn’t get to exact his revenge at the high school like he originally intended. He settled on the local public library. I suppose we were all soft targets: women, children, elderly, etc. He gave us no warning. Within six seconds, he unloaded 14 gunshots killing two people (very close friends of mine, Wanda and Krissie), injuring four (myself and a 10-year-old boy included), and traumatized countless others. He was eventually sentenced as an adult to two life sentences plus 40 years served concurrently with good time. Meaning, at the time of sentencing, he will be eligible for parole in 2051. I remember thinking how shameful it was that a murderer of two wonderful women would only be required to give a little over 30 years of his life in exchange for the beautiful lives he callously took. Little did I know of the legislators in this state who would like to see juvenile murderers and rapists serve even less time.

Victims were recently notified by the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office that New Mexico Senate Bill 247 (SB247) is in the process of working its way through the legislature. If this bill is passed and made law, it will greatly impact victims who have suffered horrendous crimes as well as family members who have lost loved ones at the hands of juvenile offenders. SB247 mandates that criminals who committed crimes as juveniles and were sentenced as adults will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years. If denied parole, they will be allowed to go before the parole board every 2 years until they are released. The nature of this proposed bill will take no account whatsoever of the severity of the offender’s crime. The parole board can consider it, but the law will require the murderer to be given a parole hearing. If passed, Nathaniel Jouett who shot and injured me along with three others and killed two women will possibly be released in a mere 11 ½ years. How is that justice?

Certain legislators, such as Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez who sponsored this bill, seem to have no issue with forcing family members of lost loved ones and other victims to relive these crimes. True healing will never begin for us if this bill comes to fruition. I remember when Nathaniel was sentenced thinking how I would be in my 60s when he would be eligible for parole. As much as I disagreed with the length of his sentence, I would have around 33 years to heal before facing him again. But, no… for some reason, certain legislators think it’s more important that these criminals who committed heinous acts deserve a life outside of prison as soon as possible. They tout that these sentences are considered excessively long for children, even 15 years. Senator Sedillo Lopez argues that if a 15-year-old “child” has to serve 15 years until released, that sentence is over half of the individual’s life. She needs to understand that the average lifespan in the United States is 78.54 years. If a juvenile murderer lives to be that age, he/she will have only spent 19% of their life in prison, not half of their life… not even a quarter. Are the two lives of my murdered friends, who had many more years to live, that invaluable? Proponents of this bill will also argue that “children” are redeemable and can be contributing members of society. I find it difficult to believe that Nathaniel, who referred to himself as the Natural Born Killer in the video he took before his killing spree, will be a more productive member of humankind than the two beautiful women of our community that he took from us. Please be their voice and help make New Mexico communities aware of this bill. Thank you

Respectfully,

Jessica Thron

Early parole for violent juvenile criminals disturbs victims

Hello. My name is Evie, and I am the daughter of a victim of a violent juvenile crime. I state this solemnly. Right now, there is a bill in the New Mexico legislative pipeline that would make it possible for juveniles sentenced for wildly violent crimes eligible for parole after just 15 years. If the perpetrator is denied, then they would be able to be considered for parole every two years thereafter. This is Senate Bill 247. I cannot stress enough how disturbing this is to the living victims of these crimes.

My story started on Aug. 28, 2017, when a young man walked into the Clovis Carver Public Library. He brandished guns from within his bag and began to open fire on any person he had in sight. With laughter and smiles, he made it known he wanted to kill and be known for it. My mother, Krissie Carter, was one of his victims. She was the youth services librarian for over a decade, and her office was located near the entrance of the library. The moment I caught word there was an active-shooter situation at her job, I could not help but think of the worst. I prayed with everything in me, but something told me something terrible was going to happen to my family that day. He claimed two lives and wounded four others. There is an unknown number of mentally traumatized patrons suffering the memory in silence.

I recently met with other families of similar circumstances. A woman in the room recalled for us the story of her son, who was so violently murdered by someone he considered a friend that he was rendered unrecognizable. He was beaten, cut up and set aflame. Unbeknownst to her, she looked her son’s murderer in the eyes after the crime, and he told her he had no idea where her son was located. The sponsors of this bill refer to these juveniles as children, but a child is pure innocence. These crimes exhibit the actions of a deeply disturbed and corrupted soul within a developing body — not a child.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 41,852,838 young people between the ages of 10 and 19 in the United States, 13 percent of the total U.S. population, in 2019 (actforyouth.net/adolescence/demographics/).

There were 44,010 arrests of juveniles for violent crimes made in 2019. Violent crimes were defined as murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault (ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/qa05101.asp).

That’s 0.10 percent of the 2019 total number of U.S. young people age 10-19. The remaining 99.9 percent of these youths also had underdeveloped brains, yet they did not commit violent crimes. They still exhibit empathy and conscience as they continue to develop into adulthood through all of their wide ranges of emotions, family environments, personal traumas, circumstances and personal convictions. Human beings are creatures of free will from the moment we begin to crawl.

There are gray areas, and so the spectrum of severity needs to be considered in a bill such as SB 247. As written, the bill can be interpreted as saying one sentence fits all crimes committed by juvenile violent offenders. I speak against the sheer possibility that teenage mass shooters or adolescent rapist killers could walk free after a mere 15 years. The victims should not have to rip the stitches out of their wounds every two years as the perpetrators proceed with parole hearings.

My sincerest thank you for taking the time to read this.

Evie Fisher is the daughter of a victim of a juvenile murderer, and she is fighting desperately to kill a state Senate bill that would rob her and others like her of their peace of mind while they try to heal the trauma of losing their loved ones.

Letter to the NM House from our legislative coordinator

Dear New Mexico House,

We are once again emailing you to urge that you vote against SB 247. SB 247 will deeply traumatize victims of violent crime. Violent crime victims are already the most vulnerable and most injured people in society. Bills like SB 247 will only increase the severe pain we live with daily.

Victims desire what the criminal justice system is supposed to provide–justice. And justice demands sentences that are proportionate to the crimes. 15 years is extremely lenient to some crimes. Not only would such a short sentence deny justice, it would also demean the crimes and devalue victims.

The parole process is very traumatizing for victims. Mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD flare up. They relive the worst experiences of their lives, leading them to suffer nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks. For many victims, the release of the assailant is not only an injustice, but a potential danger. Many victims fear retaliation and justifiably so–perpetrators do sometimes hunt down victims and retaliate against them. Victims’ understandable fear of the offenders is indescribable. Victims will speak up at traumatizing parole hearings to prevent the injustice and danger of parole.

Please don’t put the freedom of mass murderers like Nathaniel Jouett above the rights of innocent victims.

We suggest that you read these letters to the editor from survivors who would be impacted by SB 247.

Letters to the editor: On juvenile parole bill

New Mexico SB247 – Survivor of Clovis Library Shooting

Sincerely,

NOVJM

Letter to the NM House from our legislative coordinator

Hello, New Mexico House,
We are once again emailing to beg you to vote against SB 247, which would mandate parole hearings for all juvenile criminals after only 15 years. 
Advocates of SB 247 will try to minimize the crimes committed by those they want to free. But regardless of what juvenile offender advocates say, some juveniles commit evil crimes with full comprehension of the results. Here are some offenders whose sentences would be reduced by SB 247. 


Nathaniel Jouett

Jouett went on a shooting rampage at the Clovis-Carver Library, murdering two people and injuring four. One of the injured victims was a 10-year-old boy. 
https://teenkillers.org/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/mexico-offenders/nathaniel-jouett/

Darcy Smith
Smith and her partners in crime decided to “scare the hell” out of someone. They kidnapped Adam Price, terrorized him, and shot him over 10 times. Smith shot him twice with a 9 millimeter handgun. After shooting him, she picked up one of the spent casings from her gun to take as a souvenir. https://teenkillers.org/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/mexico-offenders/darcy-smith/

John Gamble

Gamble tricked Joseph Garcia into coming to a secluded area outside of town where he murdered him. Gamble beat Joseph, got a rifle, and hit him on the head with it. He tried to shoot Joseph but could not get the gun to fire. He poured gasoline on Joseph’s body and set him ablaze. He then returned to a party he had attended previously that day. https://teenkillers.org/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/mexico-offenders/john-gamble/

Nehemiah Griego
Griego fatally shot his parents and three younger siblings in their home. He first shot his mother with a .22 rifle as she slept. He then showed his mother’s dead body to his nine-year-old brother before shooting him in the head as well. Griego then visited the bedroom of his younger sisters, ages five and two. He shot both children in the head. The murderer then went downstairs and waited for his father to return home. When his father returned Griego shot him multiple times with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with a scope. Griego then reloaded the weapons intending to drive to an area to shoot more people. https://teenkillers.org/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/mexico-offenders/nehemiah-griego/

These crimes were not mistakes made due to under-developed brains. They were acts of evil. Crimes like these warrant longer sentences than 15 years to life. Claiming that these crimes only warrant 15 years demeans them. It is also dangerous to allow such violent criminals out in society after such a short time. Would you want any of these murderers as your next-door neighbor? As we document on our website, paroled criminals often re-offend. https://teenkillers.org/myths-about-the-juvenile-life-sentence/dangerous-early-release/ https://teenkillers.org/myths-about-the-juvenile-life-sentence/research-on-juvenile-criminal-recidivism/
Please protect New Mexicans from brutal murderers by voting no on SB 247. 
Sincerely, 
The National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers 

Letter to the NM House from several victims

Dear New Mexico House,

We are writing this letter as crime victims who would be significantly harmed by the enactment of Senate Bill 247, which we call the “Victim Re-traumatization Bill”. SB 247 would mandate that all juvenile offenders, even mass shooters like Nathaniel Jouett, be eligible for parole within only 15 years. We urge you to vote against it.

All of us were impacted by crimes committed by juveniles, including home invasion, kidnapping, aggravated battery, attempted murder, and murder. Several of us were victimized by Nathaniel Jouett, the perpetrator of the Clovis Library shooting. We will live with the horror and trauma of these crimes for the rest of our lives. We suffer from PTSD, depression, survivor’s guilt, and other conditions. Yet while these criminals have forced life sentences upon us, and in some cases, death sentences upon our family members, they would be free to move on with their lives after only 15 years. Such a short sentence would be an egregious miscarriage of justice. It would greatly demean these terrible crimes and would devalue us and our families as victims. Even the possibility of release after 15 years should not be allowed for such violent and merciless criminals. Furthermore, we are terrified of the idea of having to endure parole hearings and re-live the memories and trauma of the crimes.

We want to make it clear that we were not communicated with or considered during the drafting of this bill. Most victims who wished to speak against this bill in Senate Committees were denied the opportunity. We request that more time is given so that we can be heard and our concerns can be addressed. Because SB 247 will significantly impact the rest of our lives we deserve to be thoroughly considered. We will also point out that the New Mexico District Attorneys Association also does not support SB 247.

We also feel the need to correct misinformation that is being spread by SB 247 proponents. Advocates of the Victim Re-traumatization Bill claim that juvenile life without parole violates Supreme Court rulings. It does not. The Supreme Court has ruled that life without parole may be imposed on a juvenile offender if they commit homicide and are given a sentencing hearing. The Supreme Court has never held that life without parole is always unconstitutional when imposed on a juvenile. 

Demonstrated in the Victim Re-traumatization Bill is an astounding and disheartening lack of concern for victims and their families. The Victim Re-traumatization Bill places the freedom of depraved and dangerous felons over the rights of us and other innocent victims.  

More information on the Victim Re-traumatization Bill can be found here. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/legislation/new-mexico-sb-247/ We also urge you to read this letter in the Roosevelt Review from a Clovis-Carver Library shooting survivor. 

https://www.therooseveltreview.com/new-mexico-sb247-survivor-of-clovis-library-shooting/?fbclid=IwAR19F97pLcDinAhwih41xcFa3CmcmavekARSSSxhVZNtdBJ-E_UknsY5IQQ  Also consider reading testimony against SB 247 from several of our members. https://teenkillers.org/legislation/new-mexico-sb-247/new-mexico-sb-247-testimony-senate-public-health-affairs-committee/ 

As shown by our petition on change.org, over 2,000 people, mostly fellow New Mexicans, agree with us and oppose the Victim Re-traumatization Bill.  https://www.change.org/p/new-mexico-legislature-prevent-bill-that-will-deny-justice-and-harm-crime-victims  We urge you to join us in supporting victims and opposing this bill. At the very least, SB 247 should be amended to allow for more appropriate sentences. 

Letter to the NM House from the legislative coordinator

Hello, New Mexico House,

I am the legislative coordinator for the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers (NOVJM). I have just sent you a letter that was written by several New Mexico NOVJM members who would be impacted by SB 247. I am now sending you this letter from the entire organization. 

SB 247 would significantly hurt victims of juvenile criminals by mandating sentences no longer than 15 years to life. 15 years is grossly lenient when compared to some crimes. Consider, for example, the murder of Katherine Cardenas in the neighboring state of Texas. 16-year-old Jose Arredondo kidnapped Katherine, raped her, and strangled and beat her to death. Katherine was two years old. 

For there to be justice, a sentence must be proportionate to the crime. 15 years is a grossly lenient sentence for some serious crimes and denies justice. To say that 15 years to life is a proportionate punishment to a highly aggravated murder like that demeans and minimizes it. Sentencing a murderer like Arredondo to 15 years to life would also demean the value of what he took-Katherine’s life.

We also feel the need to point out that sentencing juvenile murderers to life without parole remains constitutional, so long as sentencing authorities consider youth and mitigating factors. The Supreme Court has never held that juvenile life without parole is always unconstitutional. 

We beg you to vote against SB 247 or to at least amend it to allow for more appropriate sentences. 

Letter to the NM House Speaker from several victims

Dear Speaker Egolf,

We are writing this letter as crime victims who would be significantly harmed by the enactment of Senate Bill 247, which we call the “Victim Re-traumatization Bill”. SB 247 would mandate that all juvenile offenders, even mass shooters like Nathaniel Jouett, be eligible for parole within only 15 years. We urge you not to bring it to the House Floor. 

All of us were impacted by crimes committed by juveniles, including home invasion, kidnapping, aggravated battery, attempted murder, and murder. Several of us were victimized by Nathaniel Jouett, the perpetrator of the Clovis Library shooting. We will live the horror and trauma of these crimes for the rest of our lives. We suffer from PTSD, depression, survivor’s guilt, and other conditions. Yet while these criminals have forced life sentences upon us, and in some cases, death sentences upon our family members, they would now be free to move on with their lives after only 15 years. That is why such a short sentence would be an egregious miscarriage of justice. It would greatly demean these terrible crimes and would devalue us and our families as victims. Furthermore, we are terrified of the idea of having to endure parole hearings and re-live the memories and trauma of the crimes.

We want to make it clear that we were not communicated with or considered during the drafting of this bill. Most victims who wished to speak against this bill in Senate Committees were denied the opportunity. We request that more time is given so that we can be heard and our concerns can be addressed. Because SB 247 will significantly impact the rest of our lives we deserve to be thoroughly considered. We will also point out that the New Mexico District Attorneys Association also does not support SB 247.

Demonstrated in the Victim Re-traumatization Bill is an astounding and disheartening lack of concern for victims and their families. The Victim Re-traumatization Bill places the freedom of depraved and dangerous felons over the rights of us and other innocent victims.  

More information on the Victim Re-traumatization Bill can be found here. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/legislation/new-mexico-sb-247/ We also urge you to read this letter in the Roosevelt Review from a Clovis-Carver Library shooting survivor. 

https://www.therooseveltreview.com/new-mexico-sb247-survivor-of-clovis-library-shooting/?fbclid=IwAR19F97pLcDinAhwih41xcFa3CmcmavekARSSSxhVZNtdBJ-E_UknsY5IQQ

As shown by our petition on change.org, over 2,000 people, mostly fellow New Mexicans, agree with us and oppose the Victim Re-traumatization Bill. We urge you to join us in supporting victims and opposing this bill. https://www.change.org/p/new-mexico-legislature-prevent-bill-that-will-deny-justice-and-harm-crime-victims  

Letter to the NM Senate from several victims

Dear Senate,

We are writing this statement as crime victims who would be significantly harmed by the enactment of Senate Bill 247, which we call the “Victim Re-traumatization Bill”. SB 247 would mandate that all juvenile offenders, even mass shooters like Nathaniel Jouett, be eligible for parole within only 15 years. After the 15 years have passed, the perpetrators would be entitled to parole hearings every two years. This bill would devastate us and our families by denying justice and by forcing us to repeatedly relive the crimes at an excessive number of parole hearings. We urge lawmakers not to pass it. 

All of us were impacted by crimes committed by juveniles, including home invasion, kidnapping, aggravated battery, attempted murder, and murder. Several of us were victimized by Nathaniel Jouett, the perpetrator of the Clovis Library shooting.

We will live the horror and trauma of these crimes for the rest of our lives. We suffer from PTSD, depression, survivor’s guilt, and other conditions. Yet while these criminals have forced life sentences upon us, and in some cases, death sentences upon our family members, they would now be free to move on with their lives after only 15 years. That is why such a short sentence would be an egregious miscarriage of justice. It would greatly demean these terrible crimes and would devalue us and our families as victims. 

Furthermore, we are terrified of the idea of having to endure parole hearings every two years. One parole hearing is traumatic enough, forcing us to re-live the memories and trauma of the crimes. But SB 247 would give the offenders who victimized us up to dozens of parole hearings. A 16-year-old murderer like Jouett would get his first parole hearing at age 31. Then another hearing at age 33, then age 35, and so forth. If he lives to be 75, he will be entitled to 23 parole hearings. We would be trapped in a revolving door of trauma and torment. Even if the criminal is denied parole, we would know that the relief is only temporary and the battle will begin again in two short years. 

Demonstrated in the Victim Re-traumatization Bill is an astounding and disheartening lack of concern for victims and their families. The Victim Re-traumatization Bill places the freedom of depraved and dangerous felons over the rights of us and other innocent victims.  

More information on the Victim Re-traumatization Bill can be found on our website. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/legislation/new-mexico-sb-247/ We also urge you to read this letter in the Roosevelt Review from a Clovis-Carver Library shooting survivor. 

https://www.therooseveltreview.com/new-mexico-sb247-survivor-of-clovis-library-shooting/?fbclid=IwAR19F97pLcDinAhwih41xcFa3CmcmavekARSSSxhVZNtdBJ-E_UknsY5IQQ

As shown by our petition on change.org, over 2,000 people, mostly fellow New Mexicans, agree with us and oppose the Victim Re-traumatization Bill. We urge lawmakers to join us in supporting victims and opposing this bill. https://www.change.org/p/new-mexico-legislature-prevent-bill-that-will-deny-justice-and-harm-crime-victims  

Sincerely,

The victims

Legislative coordinator letter to the NM Senate Judiciary Committee

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee,

We are the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Murderers. We are emailing to express concern about SB 247, which would mandate parole eligibility for all juvenile offenders after 15 years of incarceration. Under SB 247, juvenile offenders, including those responsible for serious crimes like rape and murder, would be entitled to parole hearings every two years. We urge this Committee to amend the bill and increase the amount of time between parole hearings. 

We are thankful that the Senate Health & Public Affairs Committee was willing to amend the bill by mandating parole hearings after 15 years instead of 10. This is an improvement. However, the amendment did not address our other major concern–the repeated tormenting of victims every two years.

Under the first version of SB 247, a 17-year-old murderer who lives to be 75 would be entitled to 25 parole hearings, assuming he isn’t released at some point. Under this new version, a 17-year-old murderer would get his first parole hearing at age 32. Then another one at 34. Then another one at 36. Then more hearings at 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72, and 74. That’s 22 parole hearings, three less than under the first version. So while increasing the offenders’ sentences by five years may seem like a major compromise, it really isn’t so long as these criminals get parole hearings every two years. 

Ideally, victims of criminals like the Clovis Library shooter should endure as little re-traumatization as possible. Traumatic and painful parole hearings should be kept to an absolute minimum. 

Thank you for your attention. 

Sincerely, 

NOVJM 

Long letter from several victims

We are writing this statement as crime victims who would be significantly harmed by the enactment of Senate Bill 247, which we call the “Victim Re-traumatization Bill”. SB 247 would mandate that all juvenile offenders, even mass shooters like Nathaniel Jouett, be eligible for parole within only 15 years. After the 15 years have passed, the perpetrators would be entitled to parole hearings every two years. This bill would devastate us and our families by denying justice and by forcing us to repeatedly relive the crimes at an excessive number of parole hearings. We urge lawmakers not to pass it. 

Our stories

All of us were impacted by crimes committed by juveniles, including home invasions, kidnapping, aggravated battery, attempted murder, and murder. Several of us were victimized by Nathaniel Jouett, the perpetrator of the Clovis Library shooting. On August 28, 2017, Jouett entered the Clovis Library intending to kill as many people as possible. He shot six people, murdering two librarians, Wanda Walters and Krissie Carter, and injuring four others. Several of us are the children of Wanda and Krissie. Others were shot and nearly killed by Jouett.

Some of us who witnessed the Clovis Library massacre remember Jouett screaming, cursing, laughing, and calling us cowards. Security video shows him making a “rock on” sign as he entered the library. Additionally, Jouett made a video before the shooting stating that he wanted to be known as “NBK”–The Natural Born Killer.  

Others of us are the family members of Joseph Garcia, who was murdered by John Gamble in 2008. Gamble lured Joseph to a remote location, beat him with a rifle, and set his body on fire after the rifle broke to pieces over John Gable’s beaten body. 

Juvenile killers

Unfortunately, Gamble and Jouett are just two of many disturbed juvenile murderers within the state of New Mexico. Many more can be found here. http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/mexico-offenders/ The proposers of the “Victim Re-traumatization Bill” refer to these juvenile criminals as “children.” But the term “child” is associated with pure innocence. These crimes exhibit the minds of deeply disturbed and corrupted souls within adolescent bodies – not children. 

A main argument made by proponents of bills like SB 247 is that the teenage brain is not entirely developed, therefore rendering juvenile offenders less culpable. We disagree. One’s brain does not have to be fully developed to understand the wrongfulness of violent crime. Everyone outside of adolescence has gone through these same developing stages without committing murders or other violent crimes because morality and understanding of right versus wrong take precedence. The crimes committed by Gamble, Jouett, and other vicious juvenile offenders were not the results of cognitive failure. They were the results of evil. 

The injustice of the Victim Re-traumatization Bill

We will live the horror and trauma of these crimes for the rest of our lives. We suffer from PTSD, depression, survivor’s guilt, and other conditions. Yet while these criminals have forced life sentences upon us, and in some cases, death sentences upon our family members, they would be free to move on with their lives after only 15 years. That is why such a short sentence would be an egregious miscarriage of justice. It would greatly demean these terrible crimes and would devalue us and our families as victims. 

Furthermore, we are terrified of the idea of having to endure parole hearings every two yearsOne parole hearing is traumatic enough, forcing us to re-live the memories and trauma of the crimes. But SB 247 would give the offenders who victimized us up to dozens of parole hearings. A 16-year-old murderer like Jouett would get his first parole hearing at age 31. Then another hearing at age 33, then age 35, and so forth. If he lives to be 75, he will be entitled to 23 parole hearings. That is 23 times the crime victims will have to take time off work or school to speak to the parole board, 23 times we will have to relive the crimes, and 23 times we will worry about the criminal who destroyed our lives being released. We would be trapped in a revolving door of trauma and torment. Even if the criminal is denied parole, we know the relief is only temporary and this battle will begin again in two short years. 

We do not oppose the Victim Re-traumatization Bill and the parole of the violent criminals who harmed us out of anger, vindictiveness, or a desire to punish the perpetrators. We oppose it because we do not want to live our entire lives in fear of the attackers coming back. We want to be able to put these terrible events behind us, move forward with our lives, and pick up the pieces as best we can. We cannot do that if we are constantly embroiled in parole hearings. We would be constantly looking over our shoulders, wondering when the assailant might strike again in fear of retaliation. 

We are deeply troubled by the fact that a bill like SB 247 is even being considered. Demonstrated in the bill is an astounding and disheartening lack of concern for victims and their families. It places the freedom of depraved and dangerous felons over the rights of us and other innocent victims. Victims like us already have to live with the pain and horror of these crimes for the rest of our lives. We should not also have to live with the agony of seeing the value of our own lives or our lost loved ones’ lives diminished. Nor should we have to live with the injustice of the criminals’ early release. We should not also have to endure a never-ending cycle of parole hearings that force us to re-live the memories and trauma of these terrible crimes. 

Conclusion

We will never be let out of our grief. We will never be released of our painful memories and emotions. Yet these senators aim to allow these juvenile criminals a release from their cells for no reason other than age. Our emotional prisons are permanent. We hear stories of people starting new lives at 50, 60, 70, 80+ years old all the time. There is no reason to let violent offenders out before they serve the sentence they were judiciously given.

As shown by our petition on change.org, over 2000 people, mostly fellow New Mexicans, agree with us and support killing the Victim Re-traumatization Bill. We urge lawmakers to join us in supporting victims and opposing this bill.