Opponents of pretrial reform ignore law enforcement warnings

Public Prosecutor Raúl Torrez

The opposition to a modest proposal to stop the revolving door for murderers, rapists, paedophiles, human traffickers and armed criminals is a prime example of what is wrong with the way the politics of criminal justice is elaborated in this state.

Neither Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, nor Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, authors of a recent op-ed (Journal Feb. 1) supporting the status quo, have attempted to engage with our frontline prosecutors, investigators or victim advocates over the past year, one of the most violent in this city’s history. Had they done so, not only would they have learned something about the human toll of preventable violent crime, but they would have been forced to face the inexplicable fact that more than half of armed defendants were released by the courts in during an unprecedented period of arms. violence in this community.

I commend both of these representatives for their support of universal background checks and red flag laws as a sensible way to reduce gun violence. I only wish they were so interested in taking a common sense approach to keeping armed and violent criminals behind bars.

Unfortunately, the defenders of this broken catch-and-release system not only fail to use common sense, but also ignore a glaring inconsistency in their own data. They argue that the system works because “only” 5% of released defendants were arrested for violent crimes while on bail, while simultaneously noting that 70% of violent crimes in this community go unsolved.

The simple truth is that neither the courts nor legislative analysts have any idea how many other crimes these defendants may have committed while in custody, because there is no meaningful pre-trial oversight, even for highest risk defendants under GPS monitoring.

Not only have the courts failed to monitor these dangerous criminals on nights and weekends for the better part of the past five years, they also continue to hide historical GPS data, despite the fact that it could help us know if these defendants are connected to one of the thousands of unsolved crimes in our community.

Lacking both common sense and reliable data, revolving door proponents chose to mislead the public and attack law enforcement professionals, while ignoring our repeated warnings of danger. to recklessly redesign the criminal justice system in order to empty the county jail.

For years, we’ve warned policymakers that local court rules with arbitrary deadlines and mandatory penalties — and which only apply to one of New Mexico’s 33 counties — would destabilize an already overburdened system. and would lead to more layoffs and lower conviction rates.

We warned them not to create a detention system that lacked specific guidelines for judges assessing serious violent offenders. And we warned them that reducing our access to the grand jury would have catastrophic consequences for public safety. At every turn, these decision makers have ignored the advice of people who have dedicated their lives to public safety and now, adding insult to injury, they are blaming those same professionals for the mess they have created.

The fact is, our prosecutors are doing an extraordinary job, securing convictions for 83% of felony defendants charged by our office, and they are doing so despite deep procedural hurdles erected by policymakers who do not honor their work and do not don’t appreciate their expertise.

Unfortunately, I don’t expect the defenders of this broken system to start listening to law enforcement professionals now, but I urge them to start listening to the 77% of voters who are tired of the violent crimes and who want to close the revolving door.


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