New Mexico

Proposal to rework New Mexico’s bail laws advances

SANTA FE, NM — A House of Representatives committee introduced a constitutional amendment proposal Wednesday morning that would revise some of the state’s bail bonds laws.

But it was a bail reform constitutional amendment that got us to where we are now. So why should this proposal be any different?

House Joint Resolution 9 sponsors say this is just about expanding options.

Currently, the state constitution provides that suspects must be released before trial unless they pose a danger to the community.

Republican lawmakers behind the proposal believe the system doesn’t always keep the most dangerous people behind bars.

Here’s what they want to change:

  • First, state legislatures would decide what conditions or crimes should warrant pre-trial detention.
  • Second, district and municipal judges would be permitted to make detention decisions without a formal request from the prosecutor.
  • Finally, the proposed change would expand the types of suspects that can be held before trial.

At the moment, only people charged with crimes can be arrested.

Clovis Rep. Andrea Reeb is one of the sponsors of the bill. She says this proposal is what New Mexicans thought they were voting for a few years ago when bail reform was last put to the vote.

She believes they should still be part of that decision.

“New Mexico communities are not happy with the way things are going and they should have a say. So I see no resistance to why they wouldn’t want to put this back on the ballot for the common man to decide if this is right for them,” Reeb said.

This proposal comes as state legislatures take a serious look at the pre-trial detention system.

The House Judiciary Committee — where this proposal goes next — heard Wednesday from court administrators about the so-called “revolving door” of criminals who arrest, release and commit violent crimes.

“I would just like to note that the data you have presented does not paint a picture, in fact it does. That we have a system that’s broadly effective, that when prosecutors arrest a violent defendant, they’re largely successful,” said Rep. Matthew McQueen.

Committee members noted that what happens after suspects are released also needs to be addressed, and they know there is likely no single solution to completely address these concerns.

Follow HJR 9 through the legislature.

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