NM voters pass constitutional amendment on bail reform

The Associated Press
November 08, 2016 11:29 PM

New Mexico voters have approved a constitutional amendment that will allow judges to deny bail to defendants considered exceptionally dangerous.


The amendment also grants pretrial release to those who aren't considered a threat but remain in jail because they can't afford bail.

The measure required final approval from voters after lawmakers in February cleared the way for it to appear on the ballot. It had bipartisan support.

Top leaders, including Gov. Susana Martinez and Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels, urged voters to support the amendment.

Legislative analysts determined that jailing significantly fewer non-dangerous defendants could save taxpayers $19 million a year, while detaining dangerous defendants for longer periods could cost about $967,000.

Voters also approved more than $186 million in general obligation bonds to support everything from senior citizen centers and schools to the state crime lab.

Supporters say the funding is key to completing brick-and-mortar projects as New Mexico struggles with a budget crisis.

The largest of the bond issues that passed Tuesday will provide about $142 million for capital construction at colleges and universities.

An additional $7 million will go toward the construction of a new state police crime lab and expansion of the existing lab at the Department of Public Safety.

The state Board of Finance estimates that property owners will pay $9.34 annually on each $100,000 of a property's assessed value to fund the bonds over the next decade. That's the same amount assessed to property owners in 2015.


The Associated Press

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