BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – It is one of the biggest pieces of Albuquerque’s justice system aimed at keeping criminal suspects honest while they’re out of jail awaiting trial. However, the court’s GPS monitoring program is being pushed to its limit without enough ankle monitors to go around.

“We need to provide all the necessary resources as a community to make sure we are keeping track of individuals who are pending trial,” said Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman.

Bregman said he’s looking for solutions with the continued pressure on the courts and the jail. More people are getting arrested, and according to leaders, the system is struggling to keep up.

“We have limited resources in law enforcement. I just checked with a field lieutenant in the state police that I know very well, and he told me yesterday he had an officer at MDC, four hours it took him to book somebody,” said Gov. Appointed Crime Commissioner Pete Kassetas at a press conference on September 15.

Outside of MDC, Bernalillo County District Court’s GPS monitoring program is used as an alternative to keep accused criminals behind bars, and it’s being pushed to the limits.

“Right now, there’s probably an uptick in the people who are being arrested because of the warrant round-ups and other things, and we are going to continue to arrest people based on arrest warrants, and we will hold them accountable,” said Bregman.

This summer, several judges have faced a shortage of ankle monitors. Last week, prosecutors asked a judge to put Yarelis Cespedes on a GPS bracelet after she failed to show up for court hearings over a case tied to child porn accusations. A judge ultimately denied that request.

Bregman also argues that GPS monitoring has its flaws. He shared an example from February when murder suspect Joe Anderson cut off his ankle monitor and went missing for two weeks before his arrest.

“When someone is released with an ankle monitor, let’s be clear, that doesn’t necessarily provide safety to the community. That simply lets us know where that person may be,” added Bregman.

A spokesperson for Bernalillo County District Court told KRQE they’re waiting on a back order of more GPS monitoring devices.

“Currently the number of individuals on GPS monitoring ebbs and flows daily. Our average number of people being monitored by GPS in our Pretrial Services program varies between 100 and 115. We were recently notified by the vendor that there is a nationwide backlog on filling GPS device orders due to spiking demand. While we have a pending order for additional GPS devices, we do not have anyone waiting for a GPS device due to supply unavailability at this time. It is the practice of the Second Judicial District Court to have additional GPS devices available to ensure that we can replace damaged or non-working units immediately.”

Ramon Maestas
Deputy General Counsel