Lawmakers look to close loophole working against those owed restitution


SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – KRQE News 13’s Larry Barker first told you about a glaring loophole in the law on restitution in New Mexico.

Dozens of criminals are simply not paying their victims back because they don’t have to. Now, state lawmakers are looking to change that.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate Public Affairs Committee did not vote one way for Senate Bill 211, sponsored by Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque. Instead, they pushed it through to the next committee “without recommendation.”

Although it wasn’t a “yes” from that committee, it was a big hurdle to get out of Senate Public Affairs as this is where this bill has previously hit a snag time and time again.

Clearly, Sen. Moores hasn’t given up on it.

We have to be able to allow these families to not only heal their pain and suffering, but heal financially for the cost of the crimes,” Sen. Moores said.

The flaw in the law that is court-ordered restitution can’t be upheld by a judge unless the offender is currently on probation or parole. Victims across the state are owed thousands of dollars because the criminal isn’t being supervised anymore.

It’s a story you’ll remember Larry Barker brought us in May 2017, when he listed example after example of defendants using the loophole to get off the hook for paying victims.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez weighed in on the matter to Larry, saying, “Restitution is, frankly, the most direct way that a defendant is accountable directly to their victim. Whenever you see a failure of this type, it undermines confidence in the entire system.”

DA Torrez was in support of the bill Tuesday afternoon alongside Sen. Moores.

Sen. Moores hopes that this year, the measure will get through the legislature with the help of people like Torrez and the bill’s bipartisan co-sponsors, Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque.

KRQE News 13 will keep you updated on the bill’s progress. It heads to Senate Judiciary Committee next.

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