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New Mexico Republican targets child abuse with reform plan

August 23, 2018

FILE- In this July 30, 2018 file photo New Mexico GOP gubernatorial hopeful Steve Pearce speaks to business leaders in Albuquerque, N.M. Pearce is calling for a system of toll roads in southeastern New Mexico to serve booming oilfield and other commercial traffic around one of the most-productive oil and gas areas in the world. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras,File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Republican candidate for governor Steve Pearce suggested Thursday giving child-protection authorities greater powers to keep children in custody while investigating allegations of abuse and neglect, as part of a broad slate of proposals aimed at curbing household child abuse.

A series of brutal deaths linked to household child abuse in New Mexico has stoked public concern and calls by politicians for reform.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham also is campaigning on efforts to curb familial child abuse.

GOP Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a consecutive third term.

At a news conference outside Children, Youth and Families Department office in Albuquerque, Pearce announced his support for raising salaries at the agency — and also meting out greater discipline against officials who fail to properly investigate initial signs of familial child abuse.

A written outline of the Pearce’s reform plan suggests New Mexico join states that already permit runaway children to be placed in protective care if they are determined to be in danger.

Other proposed legal reforms would allow the state to maintain custody of children for up to 10 days while abuse claims are investigated, far beyond the current two days.

Pearce, U.S. congressman for the state’s southern district, called for an increased use of technology to track child-abuse cases and for an end to the “culture of indifference” in New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham has highlighted her support for programs aimed at improving parenting skills in households that may be prone to abusive behavior.

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