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New Mexico SJS 2019: Impact of Bail Reform

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $120,566)

The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states. This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).

The New Mexico Criminal Justice Analysis Center began operation in June 1988 and later changed its name to the New Mexico Statistical Analysis Center (NMSAC). The NMSAC is located within the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of New Mexico. The NMSAC is responsible for providing data and technical assistance to criminal justice planners, improving the quality and usefulness of research and planning for criminal justice agencies, and increasing communication between state criminal justice agencies with regard to common issues of research and analysis. The NMSAC is under the leadership of a SAC director with assistance from graduate students who provide research support.

Under this award, the New Mexico Statistical Analysis Center (NMSAC) will conduct activities under the following Core Capacity area: Measuring criminal justice system performance. The NMSAC plans to continue to examine the impact of New Mexico’s constitutional amendment on bail, passed in 2016. The goal of the amendment is to detain dangerous defendants pretrial, and ensure that others are not detained solely because they cannot afford bail. The current study is the third phase of a multi-year study examining the impact of the new amendment on bail. During the first year of the project, the SAC focused on gathering baseline data and constructing performance measures, and the second year focused on implementation. This year, working closely with the New Mexico Sentencing Commission (NMSC), the SAC proposes to assess two key areas. The NMSC has agreed to provide support by sharing existing data and assisting in obtaining access to data not currently in-house. First, SAC staff will examine the use of preventive detention motions and their outcomes. There has been a proliferation of these cases since bail reform began, and it is important to understand under what circumstances they are filed, whether judges detain individuals and why, and whether those who are not detained fail (commit new offenses or fail to comply) during the pretrial period. Second, SAC staff will examine the impact of bail reform on detention and community safety. The SAC will follow a sample of individuals booked for a felony offense in six New Mexico counties, with specific interest in determining whether and in what ways release and detention practices have changed, and whether there is an impact on community safety. Study findings will be shared with stakeholders throughout New Mexico and published in reports to be displayed on the SAC’s website. The results will assist the state as it continues to implement the new constitutional amendment.

Travel funds will be used for the SAC Director to attend SAC-focused conferences or meetings in 2019 and 2020.


Date Created: September 16, 2019