Opposition to the New Mexico Bail Reform is not the first of its kind, This is becoming a common story across the country – bail reforms are being implemented in many states, and without fail they are being criticized for not being strict enough on criminals and repeat offenders.
New Mexico Bail Reform
In New Mexico, a new bond rule went into effect on July 1st of this year. Hundreds of people have been arrested for various crimes since that time. Forty of those arrests were for serious felony charges. Prosecutors requested those suspects be held without bond until their trial dates.
But of those 40 requests by prosecutors, only four suspects were jailed without bond.
Those four include a man who was accused of kidnapping an off-duty Border Patrol agent and attacking him with a machete; a man who has been accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her; a man who supposedly broke into an elderly woman’s home and sexually assaulted her; and another man who is accused of breaking into the bedroom of an eleven-year-old girl as she was sleeping.
Residents feel that the New Mexico Bail Reform does not do enough to keep dangerous men and women away from the community while they await trial.
The Issue Is Nation Wide
This is a sentiment that is echoed across the country, whenever new bail legislation is discussed, drafted, and eventually adopted. Many people in communities that are reforming their system’s bail procedures are concerned that the new processes make it too easy for offenders to claim they cannot afford a high cash bail, even if that may not be entirely true. Policemen who are charged with verifying a defendant’s claims of financial inability to afford bail do not have enough time to track down the truth of the accused’s finances.
There are some systems that are functioning better than others, and those generally utilize a computerized program that analyzes the risks of releasing a defendant without bail. The programs incorporate a variety of factors, including prior criminal history and arrest records, previous attempts to skip out on court appearance and failures to appear, and other behavioral aspects. They also run algorithms to calculate the flight risk of a defendant based on their employment, family situation, and other variables in their personal life.
By generating a risk score based on these assessments, a judge is able to decide more effectively whether a defendant should be jailed prior to their upcoming court appearances or not. If the algorithms yield an assessment that indicates a defendant might commit further crimes–or skip town–if they were released, a judge can decide to hold the defendant until their court date.
Streamline The Process
The most effective bail reform measures also streamline the arraignment and court processes, reducing the time between a defendant’s bail hearings and the final court dates for their trial. This reduces the time and resources that are spent holding a defendant indefinitely; under the current system, some defendants can sit in jail for months or even years waiting for their trial.
Bail companies are also beginning to claim that these new bond processes are hurting their business. Some see it as a government impingement on their rights to practice their trade. Whether the bail bond companies will be able to block future bail reforms is still unknown, but there is much discussion still taking place across the nation about this issue.
What do you think? Do we need bail reforms? Are the current systems enough? Let us know what you think in the comments!