ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There are changes coming to how the courts monitor felony defendants on ankle monitors in Bernalillo County. This is an effort to keep a closer eye on defendants with electronic monitoring devices. It’s a 24/7 alert system that will contact law enforcement if someone wearing a GPS device violates their boundaries.
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“We know it will result in a lot quicker notification to law-enforcement and that may help them arrest someone if the judges decide they should be arrested and they’ll come in front of the judge and will find out if it’s something to be worried about or not,” said Artie Pepin, the director for the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Back in August, Trey Bausby was put on an ankle monitor accused of murder. He cut off the ankle monitor and the Albuquerque Police Department says they were not notified for 24 hours. This led the district attorney’s office to express concern about how defendants are being monitored.
The Administrative Office of Courts announced a new system for tracking defendants on ankle monitors. Five new employees are being hired to work in the overnight unit. They will train for the next few weeks and start in October.
Before someone was just monitoring during the day, so if something happened overnight they wouldn’t know until the next day. “Any delays and actually detecting violations affect public safety and so we alerted the courts to let them know it’s important for folks to be monitored 24/7 and we’re glad to see the court is moving in that direction,” said Adolfo Mendez, the chief of Policy and Planning with the Office of the Second Judicial District Attorney.
A study from the University of New Mexico analyzed close to 10,300 cases in Bernalillo County over a three-year period where defendants charged with felonies were released from custody awaiting trial. A small percentage got in trouble again.
The study shows about 500 people were arrested for a violent crime while awaiting trial. Almost 2,000 were arrested for misdemeanors, petty misdemeanors or fourth-degree felonies.
The Administrative Office of the Courts has submitted a request to the legislature for extra funding for this project.
APD Chief Medina who blasted the system after the Trey Bausby incident says he’s pleased with these adjustments and that the public deserves to know these defendants are being closely monitored every minute.
According to a news release from the Administrative Office of the Courts, when a “high alert” is received, monitoring staff will do the following:
- Investigate immediately, including calling the defendant to determine whether there has been a violation of the person’s conditions of pretrial release.
- Request a bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant when there is an apparent violation of court-imposed restrictions. On-call judges in the District and Metro Courts will be available for issuing bench warrants after normal business hours.
- Email bench warrants to law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office and the defendant’s lawyer.
- Call the crime victim and request a welfare check by law enforcement when appropriate.
- Provide law enforcement with the defendant’s last known GPS coordinates when a bench warrant has been issued and the information is requested.