SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The battle over how to tackle the state’s crime problem is heating up at the Roundhouse on Monday. A Legislative Finance Committee memo states changing pretrial detention will not lower crime. The Bernalillo County District Attorney is firing back with his own memo showing it will. Lawmakers will consider a bill that would give clear guidance to judges on when they should allow accused criminals out free until their trial.

“That this is narrowly, narrowly tailored to what are called serious violent offenses. That’s murder, sexual assault, child abuse, human trafficking, the use of a weapon, the discharge of a weapon,” said Raúl Torrez, Bernalillo County District Attorney.


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However, in an LFC memo given to lawmakers last week, it spelled out keeping more people behind bars is not the solution. “For every one person you would detain who would commit a new violent crime… you would detain an additional 10 people who would not,” said UNM researcher, Paul Guerin. Guerin is behind the study from 2017 through 2021.

He says out of more than 15,000 cases in Bernalillo County, 757 defendants committed another crime while out on GPS monitoring. The memo instead highlights shortcomings in the work done by police and prosecutors as contributing factors to the rising crime rate including a lack of arrests and case dismissals.

“It really comes home, not when you’re some researcher at arm’s length or some bureaucrat that works for a court. Try being a prosecutor or try being a police officer… have face to face contact with the mother of somebody who was killed by an individual who should have been locked up,” Torrez said.

Torrez disputes the data given to lawmakers. “They are counting things for example…where we intentionally dismiss cases in state court against violent repeat offenders and offenders with firearms so that we can move them into federal court,” Torrez said.

On Monday, lawmakers in the Senate Judiciary Committee heard from both sides. The public defender’s office also presented at the Roundhouse saying they have significant issues with making changes to pretrial detention including constitutional concerns.