2023-01-24 23:37:09

New Mexico Chief Justice Urges Caution With Bail Law Reform

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U.S. News & World Report
By Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) New Mexico's top judicial official urged state legislators Tuesday to be cautious and remember the principle of innocence until proven guilty as they consider toughening the state's bail laws in response to violent crime.

Supreme Court Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon delivered a State of the Judiciary speech to a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature the first in several years. She outlined efforts to streamline court procedures to keep law enforcement officers in communities and on the streets, as lawmakers grapple with public frustration over violent crime, including a record-setting spate of homicides in Albuquerque.

She also recalled advances in public safety that came with New Mexico's overhaul of its pretrial detention system, starting in 2017, to eliminate money-bail and ensure dangerous individuals can be jailed pending trial.

With the elimination of money bail, judges now have the ability to assess dangerousness, something they could not do before," Bacon said. In Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, this has resulted in the detention of over 3,000 defendants pending trial. Something that could not happen before.

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