Pretrial detention change could cost New Mexico $15M a year

February 7, 2023 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposed state Senate bill that calls for people accused of certain violent crimes to remain jailed without bond until trial could cost New Mexico up to $15.3 million annually, according to a legislative analysis obtained by a newspaper.

The Santa Fe New Mexican said the fiscal impact report by the Legislative Finance Committee also cites concerns about whether the measure might violate the state’s constitution.

The newspaper said the proposed bill is backed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez and Rep. Meredith Dixon, both Albuquerque Democrats.

Gubernatorial spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said in an email that Lujan Grisham “has been clear about prioritizing keeping violent repeat offenders off New Mexico streets by establishing a rebuttable presumption.”

The proposed bill is scheduled for its first legislative hearing Wednesday before the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee.


The measure would establish a presumption that no conditions of release would protect the community from defendants charged with crimes such as first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse, sexual exploitation of a child and child trafficking, the New Mexican reported.

While the state’s current pretrial detention system requires prosecutors to provide evidence proving to a New Mexican district judge a defendant poses too great a danger to be released on any conditions, the bill states “it shall be presumed” prosecutors have satisfied their burden of proof through probable cause to charge the person with one of several high-level felony counts, according to the newspaper.

The defendant would have an opportunity to rebut the presumption.

Advocates told the New Mexican that the goal of the measure is to prevent defendants from committing additional violent crimes while they await their trials.