Lawmaker has plan to stop New Mexico’s ‘revolving door’ for criminals

Politics - Government

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A state lawmaker has a plan to tackle New Mexico’s crime problem and he’s hoping to get it pushed through the upcoming legislative session. While these aren’t necessarily new ideas, Representative Bill Rehm says he now has the backing to get some to the governor’s desk.

Republican Rep. Rehm of Albuquerque knows the city’s crime problem all too well. That’s why he’s proposing legislation during the upcoming session that he says would help tackle the surge of violence in the metro.

One of those proposals would make changes to pre-trial detention rules. Right now, the prosecutor has to prove why the defendant is a danger to the community.

However, Rehm wants to shift it to the defense saying they would have to prove why the defendant is safe to be out on the streets. “If you were involved in a crime of violence, or if you have a history of not appearing in court, or if you’re out on bond or another charge and you commit another crime,” said Rehm.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney and the Albuquerque Police Department have long been critical of what they call the “revolving door” allowing repeat and sometimes violent criminals back onto the streets while they await trial. “We are all trying to build a system where we identify violent and dangerous people like this and career people like this who are engaged in this pattern of conduct that we can get them off the streets and make Albuquerque a safer place,” said District Attorney Raul Torrez.

Another issue plaguing the city is retail crime. The state and City of Albuquerque recently launched a partnership targeting those who are making a career out of it and Rehm wants to make it tougher.

Right now, if someone steals $500 or less at once, they face misdemeanor charges. Rehm wants it all to add up.

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“So, when you go into Target and you steal $400 and you go next door to Home Depot, you steal $400. Okay, now you got $800 worth of theft and that’s going to go to the felony level, not the misdemeanor where very little happens to you,” said Rehm.

Rehm says this bill is expected to be grouped into the governor’s crime package. Another proposal is making sure time isn’t a factor when prosecuting second-degree murder cases by doing away with the statute of limitations.

“New Mexico is the only state that has a statute of limitations on second-degree murder because it’s such a fine line between first and second,” said Rehm. He also wants to increase the penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm from two to five years.

He says most of these bills were endorsed by the House and the Senate, courts and corrections committee meaning it has bipartisan support.

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