New Mexico lawmakers consider proposal to change pretrial detention system
SANTA FE, N.M. — Many are concerned that state lawmakers will run out of time to pass meaningful public safety solutions.
It seems that efforts to change New Mexico’s pretrial detention system are not off the table just yet. There are still eight days left in the session and anything can happen.
A Senate committee dealt a huge blow last week after tabling a rebuttable presumption bill that gained support from district attorneys and the state’s Department of Public Safety. The idea was to automatically assume some violent suspects – like murderers and rapists – are a danger to the community. Unless their attorneys can prove otherwise, they would be put in jail before trial.
In years past, Democrat lawmakers had argued the idea is unconstitutional and seemed to close the door on pretrial detention reform.
Now, there’s a new plan from Democratic state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto. His proposal is specifically focused on those repeat offenders. It would give the courts the ability to put suspects in jail before their trial, if they are arrested for committing a felony while on pretrial release.
“If someone’s out committing property crimes, they’re not a risk to themselves or others,” Ivey-Soto said. “If they’re staying in town to commit more felonies, they’re not a flight risk. However, they violated other judge’s orders to not commit more crimes. That’s the place where the conversation needs to take place.”
Ivey-Soto, who is a former prosecutor, says his proposal avoids some of the constitutional issues that have come up with rebuttable presumption in the past. He believes it’s a good first step to address the revolving door issue.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman – who strongly supported the rebuttable presumption bill – agrees this is a viable solution.
The bill has already cleared its first committee with bipartisan support, and it’s expected to land in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday – likely its toughest hurdle.
The governor’s office is also supporting the legislation, which is another good sign as we near the end of the session.