Pretrial Release System is Costing More than the Bail System in New Mexico
Last November, New Mexico voters chose to reform the state’s bail system with the intention of keeping judges from jailing people who couldn’t afford bond. Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson is now questioning why more tax dollars are being spent on county pretrial services without data that proves defendants aren’t going on to commit more crimes. In August KOB witnessed many defendants facing various charges being released under their own recognizance, meaning he or she didn’t have to post bond, and many of these defendants are simply told to check in with pretrial services. Bernalillo County Commissioner Johnson is also questioning how well the pretrial system is keeping track of defendants in order to keep them from committing more crimes. Bernalillo County Commissioner Johnson states,
So, you come in, you are released on your own recognizance, you’re out on the street the next day and that’s not serving justice. Quite frankly, that’s endangering the public. The taxpayers of Bernalillo County are paying for these people to be out on the street again. So, for all of the court initiatives we’ve put in place, have we made the community safer? At this point, I’d have to say no.
Bernalillo County’s budget shows that more money is being allotted for pretrial services. Approximately $3.3 million dollars has been budgeted for pretrial district, metro court and GPS tracking services for fiscal year 2018, which is up from $2.4 million in the prior year. The budget also reveals that $184,000 has been budgeted for fiscal year 2018 for the UNM Institute for Social Research to study the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, the data yielded from the study has yet to be released to media.
California cannot afford to make the same mistakes they did in New Jersey by ending monetary bail.