New Mexico GOP Wants Emergency Legislative Session on Crime

Leading Republican state legislators in New Mexico are calling for immediate reforms to enhance sentences for violent crime and place new limitations on pre-trial release from jail in response to violent crime in Albuquerque.

The lawmakers urged Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday to call a special legislative session to “send a strong signal that criminals will be held responsible.”

A letter from House Republicans including minority leader James Townsend of Aztec and Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences calls for reconsideration of 11 GOP-sponsored bills on public safety that were rejected in 2020 and 2021 by the Democrat-led Legislature.

The GOP legislators describe state bail reforms as a failure and call for a new move toward mandatory minimum sentencing.

Grisham said Monday she will open up the 30-day legislative session in early 2022 to consideration of criminal justice proposals that expand the number of law enforcement officers and increase penalties for crimes involving firearms.

Albuquerque has surpassed its annual homicide record already in 2021, having logged more than 80 killings with four months still go in the year. The previous record was set in 2019.

The spate of killings has moved public safety concerns to the forefront of the November election in Albuquerque, where Democratic Mayor Tim Keller is seeking a second term. Challengers include Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales.

New Mexico did away with a money-based bail system in 2017. Prosecutors who want a suspect detained while awaiting trial must present evidence showing he or she poses a public safety threat.

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