SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – In less than a month, voters will be asked to weigh in on an amendment to the New Mexico Constitution changing how bail bonds are handled in the state.
It’s the only amendment on the ballot and would change how judges handle certain violent suspects, allowing them to hold them without bond.
“Why should we be using money to determine if that person is out on the street? What if they post a bond,” Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe said.
On the flip side, the amendment would allow judges to release non-violent defendants who do not pose a flight risk, if the sole reason they are being held is because they cannot afford to get out.
“Some rural counties have been spending over 50 percent of their budget dealing with jails and these are all pretrial, holding people that are charged with very minor crimes who simply don’t have the resources to post a very small bail,” Wirth said.
“Probably not going to be good for the bail bond business because, again, there’s going to be fewer clients for us to bond out of jail,” said Gerald Madrid, New Mexico Bail Bond Association, President.
Bond companies initially opposed the amendment, but after changes making it tougher for some of those accused to get out without bond, they’re on board.
Madrid says it is a matter of public safety.
“We think that some people are too dangerous to be released from jail, some are extremely dangerous and don’t have any business being on the streets,” said Madrid.
Backers of the amendment hope voters will find a lot to like in what’s being proposed.
“So it deals with two sides of the bail system and I think if passed will make our communities safer and save tax payers money by reducing jail populations,” Wirth said.