Commentary: New Mexico State Representative Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque) today formally announced his plan to seek bail reform legislation designed to keep dangerous suspects off the streets.
"The function of political leaders is to protect the safety of the community," said Rehm."And right now, communities don't feel safe. We have failed communities."
Rehm’s legislation would force judges to consider the seriousness of the suspect’s charge, the suspect's past criminal history and the defendant's court appearance record. Rehm wants a new law to consider these and other factors when courts consider release. The legislation would also make judges follow federal guidelines regarding release that would put the burden of proof on a defendant, not the prosecutor.
The bill would modify the 2016 Constitutional Amendment that allows courts to deny bail to a defendant charged with a felony if a prosecutor proves the defendant a threat to the public. Rehm calls that a failed amendment that has led to release after release of dangerous suspects.
Rehm's call to crack down on the judicial system comes after yesterday's release of Fabian Gonzales, one of the suspects in the Victoria Martens case.
"This needs to be changed. This has to be fixed," Rehm stressed. "I'm optimistic because the community is very upset about how people are being released. We continue to see individuals released, rearrested and released again. We need bail reform."
Rehm hopes to get bipartisan support for his bill in the upcoming legislative session in January.