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Repeat Offender Put on House Arrest

By Hailey Heinz
Copyright © 2009 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer

          Jaime Alderete has been arrested at least 32 times under five names and various dates of birth. He has used three Social Security numbers, and his place of birth is either Albuquerque or Chihuahua, Mexico, depending on the booking sheet.
        And yet, Alderete was placed on the county's Community Custody Program in December, which means he was given an ankle-bracelet tracking device and put on house arrest except for work and activities like school.
        The Metropolitan Detention Center initially rejected Alderete for the program.
        They were overruled by District Court Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch.
        On Tuesday, Alderete was charged with beating his pregnant girlfriend while wearing his ankle bracelet. According to a criminal complaint, the victim told officers that Alderete began punching her head, then rammed his knee into her stomach and punched her in the back.
        Alderete said he was going to make the victim lose her baby. She is two months pregnant, according to the complaint.
        Conditions of Alderete's custody allowed him to be outside his home between 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to attend school, MDC spokeswoman Heather Lough said.
        On Tuesday, Alderete left his home about 7:45 a.m., prompting jail officials to begin searching for him. Alderete was not found until about 11:30 a.m., when a police officer driving on Louisiana near Southern SE saw a woman waving out a car window to get the officer's attention.
        Alderete fled in a reckless manner but eventually pulled over, the complaint says.
        His 2-year-old son was in the back seat, and the female passenger told the officer that Alderete had beaten her after she wouldn't give him money for heroin, according to the complaint.
        He was arrested.
        Judges vs. jailers
        County officials have touted the CCP program as a safe and effective way to hold down the jail population by allowing carefully screened prisoners to complete sentences or await trial in a community setting while being monitored.
        Currently, a team of jail employees reviews inmates for possible placement in the program. The team looks at inmates' history of behavior in jail, charges and other factors.
        But who has control over the program is up for discussion during the current Legislative session.
        Twin bills being discussed in state House and Senate committees would give jail administrators, rather than judges, final say in determining who gets placed on CCP.
        Jail director Ron Torres has said that the collaboration between the judges and jailers "always seems to be on thin ice," because some judges have reservations about the program, while others order it over the jail's objections.
        Chief Metro Judge Judith K. Nakamura has said "judges, not jailers" should decide who's in jail.
        "We base our decision on what's best for the community, not solely on jail population," she said in a December interview. "We think, as judges, the public elects us and trusts us to make those decisions."
        Murdoch did not return phone calls seeking comment.
        Lough could not determine Friday why the jail objected to Alderete being placed on CCP but said such objections are usually due to the nature of the charges or the offender's criminal background.
        Bernalillo County spokeswoman Liz Hamm said the county hopes to work closely with judges to determine who gets placed on CCP, even if legislation is passed giving the jail final say.
        Law enforcement officials have frequently expressed frustration with rearresting repeat offenders over and over.
        "This is all too common," Albuquerque police spokesman John Walsh said. "Thorough research by those releasing crooks and abusers of the justice system back into the public is a must."
        Complicated record
        Researching Alderete's criminal background is no easy feat. Even court officials struggled to decode his complicated tangle of arrests and convictions under various names.
        His record starts when he was a juvenile, although Alderete's age is hard to gauge because he has used dates of birth that span from 1972 to 1980. His lengthy rap sheet includes guilty pleas or convictions for domestic violence, aggravated DWI, drug possession and burglary.
        Although his DWIs and misdemeanors began in the early 1990s, Alderete's journey through the justice system began in earnest in January 2006 when he was charged with auto burglary. He was sentenced to probation, but, within a month, he had been arrested again, charged with aggravated assault and heroin possession. According to court records and District Attorney spokesman Pat Davis, Alderete was then sentenced to a drug treatment program and probation for all three crimes.
        Meanwhile, investigators connected Alderete to two auto burglaries from 2005. Because the new charges predated his earlier convictions, Alderete was sentenced as a first-time offender and given probation again.
        Alderete violated his probation in March 2008, prompting Murdoch to revoke it and sentence him to serve the remaining 258 days in the Community Custody Program.
        Then in June, Alderete was rearrested for failing to appear on a traffic citation. When he was booked into jail, a guard found heroin on him, and Alderete was charged with drug possession.
        Alderete was then held in jail until December, when Murdoch put him back on CCP, adding a year to the 258 days he had left to serve.
        Alderete is now back at MDC, where he is being held without bond.

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