Courts should re-evaluate GPS monitor policy, chief judge says
July 18, 2017 06:58 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- There was a short period of time last week when no GPS monitors were available in Second Judicial District Court. As of Monday, the Pretrial Services Division was not out of GPS monitors, but last week was a big wake up call.
Because more people are being referred to those services, Chief Judge Nan Nash said it's time to first re-evaluate policies and then figure out if the county needs to buy more.
"I don't think there is a shortage," Nash said. "I think there are enough monitors if the monitors are used appropriately."
GPS ankle monitors are used to service a very specific purpose. They're most useful for specific cases like extreme domestic violence or stalking. But last week, there was a small two-hour period where Pretrial Services was completely out.
"Prior to us being able to look at developing a policy for the use of the GPS, I said to the judges, 'We're running short on GPS monitors. Please give us time to develop this policy,' don't, or use them very sparingly," Nash said.
Several different factors this year have led to an increase of criminal defendants being released from jail, and requiring pretrial services and, in some cases, GPS monitors.
"They're not useful in every case and they shouldn't be referred," Nash said.
Right now, Pretrial Services has 111 GPS trackers in use for those suspects under constant monitoring. It's a number that has Nash looking at whether or not those resources are being used effectively. She said in similar jurisdictions, they're being used in just 10 percent of cases. But in the Second Judicial District they're used in 25 percent of cases.
"At this time, we have the monitors for folks who are assigned a monitor," Nash said. "I think we need to make sure that the folks that have monitors are the folks we need to have monitors on."
That's step one. The next step is to implement policies that Nash said will have the most effective results. They will be working on those policies in the coming weeks.
Also being considered is having the county buy more monitors, but that means extra money for each unit and the personnel to monitor it. Those monitoring units run about $1,800 each.
Updated: July 18, 2017 06:58 AM
Created: July 17, 2017 05:36 PM
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