Lawmakers discuss funding to tackle massive warrant backlog

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SANTA FE, N.M. – A bill that would get wanted criminals off the streets is getting a little pushback. Members of the House Judiciary Committee say the bill needs more work.

Mayor Tim Keller put out the call that more money and resources are needed to address a massive warrant backlog. He says it’s a key to fighting violent crime in Albuquerque.

But lawmakers say a $20 million proposal to do that doesn’t go far enough. 

“If you ask any law enforcement person in Albuquerque now, what is the number one thing we could do in the next month to reduce crime? It is get those warrants served,” said Keller.

Medina sent a letter to the Legislative Finance Committee staff, pointing to a backlog of nearly 5,000 active felony warrants and more than 62,000 misdemeanors in the county.

“They requested $10 million for Bernalillo County to do a warrants roundup and another $10 million for the rest of the state,” said state Rep. Bill Rehm. 

Reps. Bill Rehm, Stefani Lord, and Andrea Reeb are all heading up House Bill 97

Rehm says this bill places an emphasis on violent felonies – a growing number he blames on bail reform.

“What we’re talking about is re-offenders and frequent fliers, that’s what we’re doing is we’re releasing them, they’re committing other felonies, and now we’ve got to go round them up again,” said Rehm. 

While the bill sets money aside for prosecution and law enforcement, members of the House Judiciary Committee say it falls short in addressing other elements of the justice system.

Lawmakers want to also see money set aside for jails, courts, and public defenders.

Rehm will try and get those gaps filled in between now and Friday, when they plan to bring it back to the committee.

Track HB 97 during the legislative session.