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NM Attorneys: Lower Bonds Will Reduce Jail Overcrowding

PHOTO: Overcrowding at Albuquerque's Metropolitan Detention Center is causing hundreds of inmates to be housed in Texas jails at a huge cost to taxpayers, according to New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association President-elect Matt Coyte. Image courtesy of Bernalillo County.
PHOTO: Overcrowding at Albuquerque's Metropolitan Detention Center is causing hundreds of inmates to be housed in Texas jails at a huge cost to taxpayers, according to New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association President-elect Matt Coyte. Image courtesy of Bernalillo County.
October 28, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Overcrowding at Albuquerque's Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) is causing hundreds of inmates to be housed in Texas jails at a huge cost to taxpayers, according to New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association President-elect Matt Coyte. He said many non-violent offenders linger in jail because they cannot afford to post bond.

Coyte pointed out that reducing bond amounts on misdemeanors and non-violent felons could solve the problem quickly.

"If you were to release everybody with a bond of $5,000 or less from that jail, you would most likely solve the problem - or come close to it," Coyte said.

Housing inmates in other states is costing taxpayers over $6 million a year, he said, and housing New Mexico inmates in Texas jails also hurts an attorney's ability to offer the client the best defense possible.

"It delays cases. It makes it almost impossible for criminal defense lawyers to represent their clients adequately. There are a whole myriad of different reasons why it makes no sense to do this at all," he said.

Bond amounts have increased over the past decade, he added, and for some people, it may be impossible to post even a $1,000 bond.

Officials with Bernalillo County, which operates MDC, have said housing inmates in other prisons is necessary to reduce overcrowding.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM