State Sen. Craig Brandt, the Senate Republican Whip who serves Rio Rancho, presented Senate Bill 122 before the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee Monday, Jan. 29. Despite support from top law enforcement officials and prosecutors, Democrats on the committee tabled the bill on a 5-4 vote. The bill would have changed the law to allow for the holding of violent offenders pending trial to ensure they do not commit further crimes.
The bill aimed to address the “revolving door” of accused offenders getting back on the streets while waiting for trial.
Currently, if a person is arrested for a violent crime, the state has to file a pretrial detention motion and then prove the person is a danger to the community and that no conditions of release would keep the community safe.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a statement following the committee’s vote to table SB 122.
“I am dismayed that our Legislature has once again refused to undertake an honest, robust debate on the state of our pretrial release system. Crime is out of control, and something needs to change. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in behavioral health services, education, economic opportunity — critical components that ensure every New Mexican gets a fair shake. However, I will not stand by as repeat violent offenders walk in and out of our courthouses without consequence.
“A rebuttable presumption is not an extreme policy, and ours is modeled after federal law that has been in place for decades,” she said. “It is time for the Legislature and the public to stand up and give this proposal the robust debate that New Mexicans agree it deserves.”
SB 122 would have kept an accused violent offender in jail until trial, and it would be the defense’s responsibility to prove otherwise.
“Make no mistake — the reason the executive, criminal prosecutors and law enforcement all supported this measure is because there is consensus that career criminals are aided and abetted by this weakness in our bail system. By voting down this measure, progressive Democrats from Albuquerque stood on the side of criminals and left the safety and security of our communities in jeopardy,” Brandt said. “These legislators say they are committed to addressing New Mexico’s crime crisis, but votes like this expose their words are nothing more than lip service. The people of our state deserve better, and moving forward, I hope the people will demand better from those they elect to office.”