NMPJP was created to fill a need. We know there are more cases of abuse and mistreatment in New Mexico prisons and jails than there are attorneys to file them. NMPJP's purpose is to take on cases that will help press for better treatment and conditions for all incarcerated people in New Mexico.
Matthew Coyte is the former President of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and founder of Coyte Law, P.C. He has been dedicated to criminal defense and civil rights law for over twenty years. Matt has reached multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts with counties accused of corrupt and inhumane practices in their jails and advocated at the state level to put an end to some of the harshest conditions facing New Mexico's incarcerated population. In 2013, Matt was recognized nationally as Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year and in 2014 he was invited by the United Nations to provide testimony in Vienna, Austria on corruption in prisons and jails. As a result of his efforts to reduce the use of solitary confinement Matt was recognized in 2016 as the ACLU's Guardian of Liberty.
Cathy Ansheles is the former Executive Director of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association. She previously worked as the Director of the Alabama Prison Project where she advocated for the rights of incarcerated people. Cathy also served on the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, was the first coordinator of the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty, and worked for many years as a monitor of prison conditions in New Mexico under the Duran consent decree. She recently received the Legacy of Justice Award from the ACLU of New Mexico.
Barron Jones is the Senior Policy Strategist at the ACLU of New Mexico where he specializes in advocating for criminal legal system reform and police accountability. Before joining the ACLU, Barron had a distinguished career as a journalist, covering stories related to government accountability, education, domestic violence, poverty, and addiction, especially as they relate to criminal legal reform. Before working as a journalist, Barron spent about 10 years in New Mexico prisons and county jails.
Kimberly Chavez Cook is the statewide director of the New Mexico Public Defender’s Appellate Division. She also serves as the department’s policy advocate to the New Mexico Legislature where she is considered one of the state’s leading experts on criminal legal system policy. Kim graduated from Oberlin College with a major in Hispanic Studies and earned her J.D. from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, where she worked closely with the ACLU of Colorado and completed a year of clinical student practice in federal prisoners’ rights and solitary confinement litigation. She served for six years as the Chair of the Criminal UJI Committee and is a current member of the New Mexico Sentencing Commission’s Criminal Justice Reform Committee.
Steven Robert Allen is the former Director of Public Policy at the ACLU of New Mexico and the former Executive Director at Common Cause New Mexico. In both these roles, a significant portion of his work involved advocating for the rights of people who are incarcerated. In 2016, he helped launch New Mexico SAFE, a coalition of over 30 organizations that supports using alternatives to incarceration to increase public safety. He has been a member of the New Mexico bar since 1995.
The New Mexico Prison & Jail Project is a sponsored program of Oficina Legal Del Pueblo Unido, Inc. DBA Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP).