Why I Oppose the New Mexico Denial of Bail Measure
Coming up on the ballot on November 8th is a ballot measure called, New Mexico Denial of Bail Measure, Constitutional Amendment 1. The measure’s goal is to allow police time to investigate dangerous crimes while keeping the defendant locked up by denying them bail. It definitely sounds good at face value, “to protect community safety.”
To be fair, the measure attempts to fix a few issues that we have currently like removing the portion that requires people who were previously convicted of 2 or more felonies to automatically be denied bail of 60 days after incarceration if they are accused of another crime, and also ensuring that non-violent offenders can be released even if they don’t have the financial means to post bail. These changes would definitely be great wins in terms of due process, but there’s more.
The measure removes the limit on how long the state can deny an individual bail. So, if a judge deems someone who has been accused of a crime to be a “danger” they can deny them bail indefinitely. Let me say that a different way. If someone is accused of a crime and hasn’t had a trial to prove their innocence or guilt, a judge can still decide thatthey are dangerous and keep them locked up forever. The idea that a judge, or any state agent for that matter, can decide to keep an individual imprisoned forever just because they think that individual is dangerous is a major violation of due process. I’m sure during the American Revolution, King George III would have claimed all of our Founding Fathers were dangerous and imprisoned them forever if he were given the chance.
This measure, as with most measures, has some good and some bad. In my opinion the bad outweighs the good, and we will have better opportunities to address these issues going forward. Anytime I see “to protect community safety” at the beginning of a bill I start looking for the rights they are trying to infringe on this time. I can’t in good conscience vote for something that has the potential to allow the state to indefinitely detain a person who has not been tried by a jury of his / her peers and convicted of a crime. I will be opposing New Mexico Denial of Bail Measure, and I encourage each of you to do the same.
Freddie “Joe” Nichols III
Candidate for NM State Representative District 54
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