Why NM Legislators Should Vote for HB 278
Committees: 1. House State Govt., Elections & Indian Affairs; 2. House Appropriations & Finance
Summary: This bill appropriates $100,000 to the Indian Affairs Department to create a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force to conduct a study to determine how to increase state resources for reporting and identifying missing and murdered indigenous women in the state. The task force will collaborate with tribal law enforcement agencies to determine the scope of the problem, identify barriers, and create partnerships to improve the reporting and investigation of missing and murdered indigenous women. The task force will work with tribal governments and respect tribal sovereignty, and collaborate with the U.S. Dept. of Justice to improve its processes for information sharing and coordination of resources in reporting and investigating cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in New Mexico. The task force will report its findings and recommendation to the governor prior to Nov. 1, 2020.
The Task Force will consist of the Secretary of Indian Affairs (or a designee), the Secretary of Public Safety, a representative of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services, and the following appointed by the governor: one Pueblo member, one member of the Jicarilla Apaches Nation, one member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, and one member of the Navajo Nation.
History: This is the first bill introduced to address missing and murdered indigenous women in New Mexico.
Why This Bill Is Good for NM
- New Mexico is the state with the highest rate of violence against indigenous women and girls, with 78 reported missing or murdered in Albuquerque, Farmington, Gallup, and Santa Fe since 1956. The majority of those cases occurred after 2010. Albuquerque, with 37 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, has the second highest rate in the nation. Gallup, with 25 cases, is sixth highest in the nation.
According to the Indian Affairs Department:
- On some reservations, Indian women are murdered at more than 10 times the national average.
- American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2.5 times as likely to experience violent crimes and at least 2 times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes—compared to all other races.
- More than 4 in 5 American Indian women, or 84.3 percent, have experienced violence in their lifetime.
- Homicide is the third leading cause of death among American Indian women ages 10 to 24 years, and the fifth leading cause of death for American Indian women between 25 and 34 years of age.
- Jurisdictional gaps, reporting gaps, lack of coordination among law enforcement, uneven media coverage, among other issues all contribute to the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women in New Mexico.
- The U.S. Congress will be considering a federal law (Savanna’s Act) that mandates coordination and communication across law enforcement jurisdictions. Database reporting requirements could change and, if House Bill 278 is not enacted, the State of New Mexico could lag behind federal requirements.
- Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women
- Tewa Women United