Authorities unveil list of tasks to fix ‘broken’ criminal justice system

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Mayor Tim Keller unveils a list of 40 measures his administration and various stakeholders have identified as a way to reduce crime in Albuquerque. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Journal)

After five sessions bringing together law enforcement, judicial officials, prosecutors, defense lawyers and representatives of higher education and rehabilitation institutions, the city unveiled 40 articles which it said ” will reverse the course of crime in the region “.

“I’m going to tell you to stand up here as a collective community, in our respective offices, and admit our challenges, admit our failures, but also commit to doing more in the future, that is – I think – what we all expect from our leaders, ”Mayor Tim Keller said at a late morning press conference at the Real Time Crime Center in the Albuquerque Police Department. “I want to thank everyone for participating in this because it is not easy. It’s easy to blame someone else, it’s easy to point fingers, it’s easy to make excuses. And that’s what you won’t see in this effort in the future. “

The administration launched the Metro Crime Initiative in mid-July to identify ways to fix what it called a failing criminal justice system. The five sessions, lasting approximately two hours each and broadcast live on the city’s YouTube channel, focused on early intervention opportunities, detention, diversion and hearings, resources for defenders. victims and the reintegration of offenders, and career paths.

The resulting to-do list includes “invest in mobile speed control to free officers while tackling the scourge of reckless driving,” “create a task force to review officer retention programs and Lateral Recruitment for All New Mexico Police Departments, “” Create Justice Programs in Schools, “” Fund Indigent Co-payments for Drug Tests for Pre-Prosecution Diversion Programs ” and many others.

The last item came from conversations with the district attorney’s office and the public defender’s attorneys offices.

“We are covering the cost of the drug tests required to participate in pre-prosecution diversion for those who cannot afford it,” said Executive Director Sarita Nair. “The cost is therefore not an obstacle. And this is the kind of simple, concrete idea that grew out of this initiative that we can all commit to definitely fund and move forward with.

It also includes legislative changes such as “passing a law that makes owning, operating or doing business with a ‘chop shop’ a crime” and “the presumption of dangerousness before trial when an offender uses, brandishes or is in possession of a firearm during a violent, drug or property crime.

Notably, while the Bernalillo County Commissioners and Director attended the meetings, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office did not.

Keller said the sheriff’s office was invited to every session, but “frankly they are the only ones in the whole of New Mexico who never show up or respond.”

Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, a candidate for mayor, initially said he had not been “officially invited”. Then he said he was invited but had not had time between his constitutional duties and his campaign and he thinks it is all “smoke and mirrors”.

“So for them to try to invite me – thinking that I’m going to show up in the middle of these things that for me are more urgent – to try and distract me from the final victory of this race, I won’t fall for it. this trap, ”Gonzales said.

Officials stressed that just because an agency’s logo was included on the document along with the action items that didn’t mean they approved of everyone.

After the press conference, Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur said he believed the initiative was “a great forum” which allowed for “wonderful discussions with the chief of police and with the mayor’s staff”.

However, he said, he strongly disagrees with a number of points regarding the justice system and proposed laws. For example, he said, the group did not have the opportunity to discuss pre-trial detention in depth.

“I think if we detain people before their trial – the way they talk, they want to change the rules around the case management order – I think in the long run it might actually create more crime.” , said Baur. “We’ll keep people in jail, pre-trial, maybe for months and that actually increases recidivism. So I think this group has started some good discussions. But I’m thinking of the 40 things here, there’s four or five, I think, that won’t help solve the crime. They would make matters worse.

He said that instead of keeping more defendants in jail awaiting trial, the focus should be on better police and better prosecutions to secure convictions for the culprits.

“The other thing that I think it’s really important to talk about is the conditions in the prisons and prisons,” Baur said. “If people are to be detained, what are the conditions? And how are they going to be when they come out? And that’s something I think we haven’t had time to talk about.

Metro Crime Initiative Action Items by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd


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