University Researchers Analyze Pretrial Releases Amid Debate

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Amid debate over New Mexico's system of releasing felony defendants, University of New Mexico research indicates that just under 5% of Albuquerque-area defendants awaiting trial commit violent crimes while free from jail.

Findings from the university's Institute for Social Research's analysis of more than 10,000 felony cases in Bernalillo County also included that less than 1% of people on pretrial release were arrested for a first-degree felony while on pretrial release, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

A senior state courts official said the research indicates that the vast majority of defendants don’t commit new crimes pending trial but the top prosecutor for Bernalillo County and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham say its still troubling that some defendants commit crimes while free.

Administrative Office of the Courts Director Artie Pepin said the research “validates the pretrial justice improvements underway in New Mexico,.""

District Attorney Raul Torrez said through spokeswoman Laura Rodriguez that the few violent crimes committed by people on pretrial release are “an unacceptable price for our community to pay.”

Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said it “can still be utterly devastating to a family or a community” when 5% of felony defendants are arrested for a violent crime on pretrial release.