SANTA FE – New Mexico voters will have their say in the November election on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would allow judges to hold dangerous felony defendants without bail pending trial.
The Senate, in a unanimous vote and without debate, gave final approval Wednesday to the proposed amendment – the result of a compromise reached by key lawmakers, the state Supreme Court, the bail industry and others. The House, also unanimously, approved the proposed amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 1, last week.
The chief targets of the measure are dangerous “turnstile thugs” – those offenders who are jailed, only to post bail and commit more crimes while awaiting trial. Currently, under the state Constitution, nearly all defendants are entitled to reasonable bail.
Under the proposed amendment, a judge could deny bail to a defendant if there was clear and convincing evidence that no release conditions would reasonably protect the safety of any person or the community. “This amendment will give judges the tools they need to best protect our communities,” Democratic Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe, a chief sponsor of the proposed amendment, said after the Senate vote.