Contact: Isaac Padilla
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sen. Padilla Requests Independent Investigation into the Death of Victoria Martens
Santa Fe- Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla (D-14-Bernalillo) requested Attorney General Hector Balderas conduct an independent investigation into the death of Victoria Martens. A letter, making the request, was sent to the Attorney General and is attached to this communication.
“The alleged details surrounding the death of Victoria Martens may be the worst crime in New Mexico history, and it demands action,” said Sen. Padilla. “I am asking Attorney General Hector Balderas to appoint a non-partisan independent blue ribbon commission, or similar committee, of former members of the New Mexico judiciary to investigate this matter as soon as possible.”
After the death of Omaree Varela, the state was assured that the Children Youth and Family Department (CYFD) would make changes to protect New Mexico’s children. On April 2, 2014, Governor Martinez stated, “For any family in New Mexico that has faced two CYFD investigations, whether abuse or neglect was substantiated or not, I am directing CYFD to perform a supervisory high-level review involving that family.”
“At the conclusion of this independent investigation I am asking that the Attorney General provide the results, along with a set of recommendations, to my office and all other members of leadership of the New Mexico Legislature,” said Senator Padilla.
Media outlets have reported that at least two reports were made to CYFD about Victoria Martens. This investigation will determine if all processes were followed, including a supervisory high-level review of the family.
After Martinez removed the previous CYFD Secretary following serious problems at the agency, she was replaced with a new secretary, Monique Jacobson, who had no experience in child protective services. Following Secretary Jacobson’s appointment, Legislative Finance Committee staff recommended, during the 2015 Session, that CYFD create 66 new positions to investigate child abuse. Secretary Jacobson did not agree that 66 new positions were needed and sided with the Department of Finance and Administration’s request for only 45 new positions, a 32% reduction verses the recommendation. Eventually, 45 new positions were created.