Courts, DA at odds over effectiveness of bail reform | KOB 4

Courts, DA at odds over effectiveness of bail reform

The Associated Press, KOB
Updated: November 25, 2019 06:52 PM
Created: November 25, 2019 03:17 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A top official with New Mexico’s court system says bail reforms are working and the state is moving in the right direction.

Artie Pepin, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), appeared Monday in Santa Fe before a panel of state lawmakers. His testimony comes as critics contend the voter-approved system has allowed for the release of violent and dangerous offenders.

Pepin disputed those claims, pointing to a new study by the University of New Mexico’s Institute for Social Research that shows the majority of people released pending trial will show up for subsequent court hearings and aren’t committing new crimes.

The researchers reviewed the cases of nearly 6,400 defendants over 21 months.

Pepin says the study shows bail reforms are not to blame for Albuquerque’s high crime rates.

"Eighty percent of the time the DA didn't bring a motion on those people the instrument graded as most dangerous. The judge had no opportunity to keep them in jail until trial - they had to be released onto the streets of Albuquerque," Pepin said.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office accused the AOC of being misleading. 

Michael Patrick, director of communications for the district attorney, released the following statement: 

The Administrative Office of the Court’s figure misleads the public. There is a fundamental incompatibility between the Arnold tool and New Mexico law. Under New Mexico law we are prohibited from detaining people based on flight risk. The tool was developed in jurisdictions where flight risk is grounds for detention. As a result, the tool here can and does recommend detention based on flight risk. The tool is not broken, the law is. That’s why we’re proposing to change the law.

(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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