Change Wanted By Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office When It Comes To Preventive Detentions

Bernalillo County District Attorney’ Office Chief of Policy and Planning, Adolfo Mendez, speaking recently with KOAT Channel 7. Courtesy/BCDOA

From the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office:

ALBUQUERQUE — The New Mexico State Legislature is expecting to see a $2.5 billion surplus next legislative session.

“It’ll help a lot because even in the tough times, we fully funded the criminal justice institutions, the police, the state criminal courts and the DA’s office, as well as the public defenders. So, we need to give them all the adequate resources that they need to do their jobs effectively,” Democratic State Rep. Antonio Maestas said.

Effectiveness is important in any job, and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office said changes need to be made so they can better do their job.

“We have our detention motions granted about half of the time,” said Adolfo Mendez, chief of policy and planning at the Bernalillo County DA’s Office.

Preventative detention motions are made to keep someone charged with violent crimes behind bars until trial. The Arnold Tool gives judges a recommendation on whether someone should be let out before trial.

“Often when we move to detain an individual, the Arnold Tool does not recommend detention as well. So that poses some challenges to ensuring people that we think are dangerous get detained,” Mendez said.

A recent example of this is 19-year-old Reginald Hall. He’s charged with stabbing and raping a woman last Friday. The Arnold Tool recommends he be let out before trial but be closely monitored.

“I think we’ve proposed over the last several years lots of solutions to help provide some guidance for our judges in the detention decisions,” Mendez said.

Mendez would like to see additional considerations taken when the office files for preventative detention.

“In addition to the Arnold Tool, we’d like additional steps where they look at what is the charge the person’s coming in on, and factor that into the detention decisions. I think if New Mexico did something like that, either by court rule or by statute, that would help us make sure that we’re keeping dangerous people behind bars,” Mendez said.

Mendez added historically when people who are believed to be a danger are released, they often commit other crimes while out.

Rep. Maestas says the legislature will put pressure on the courts to hopefully make some changes to keep those charged with violent crimes behind bars until their trial date.

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