First off let’s make it clear that if this program is run effectively and honestly that it does provide major benefits to the communities in Bernalillo County. Keeping individuals that have been charged with non-violent crimes on house arrest frees up cells for violent offenders and reduces the cost of running the corrections system in this county. It reduces the cost that would be incurred from over-crowding of correction facilities in this county. It makes non-violent offenders responsible for the cost of their own up keep. It frees up space for violent offenders who should be behind bars. Unlike a bond it provides close oversight of any individual who is released back into the community until they can be tried in a court of law and it provides close oversight while an individual is serving a limited sentence once convict of a non-violent crime.
The major requirements should be that both the voting public and judges should be completely convinced that this program is not subject to corruption and that no violent offender will be allowed into the program. It is now clear that no one that is involved in the release of someone in custody should be allow to lobby judges on the behave of that individual. The only one that should be allow to lobby a judge on behalf of someone accused of a crime should be the lawyer who is defending the individual. The final decision to release someone accused of a crime onto this program should be the sole right of the judge who is hearing the case and not someone from the correction facility .Without those assurances this program has the potential to cause more harm then good to the communities that it servers.
Right now the Community Custody Program (CCP) is under investigation for misconduct when handling cases because one of its leaders a Mr. Vince Peele has be accused of taking bribes from inmates and for stilling inmates personal information to sell for profit. As yet Mr. Peele has not been convicted of any crime and it is assumed that he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. A basic constitutional right given to all citizens of this country and a fact that the conservative media fails to bring up when reporting this issue.
One of the major issue in this whole affair is that Second District Court’s Chief Criminal Court Judge Albert (Pat) Murdoch has stated that he believes that the program is effective before the current investigation was closed. No judge should make such remarks to the media about an ongoing investigation. According to District Attorney Kari Brandenburg the case is an open one and she gave the Chief Criminal judge no assurances that it was closed or that it was limited to only one individual.
This highlights an ongoing problem where the leadership of the Second District Court is concerned. They are far too friendly with conservative media. That same conservative media feels free to take advantage of the relationship and paint the court system as a whole in a bad light whenever there is a problem with its leadership. That same leadership will not open up to more liberal media which drives the question what do they have to conceal?
Most of the judges in the Second District Court system are caring hard working highly ethical individuals that are very professional when it comes to the cases that are brought before them. They base their decisions on hard provable facts in the cases and the evidences provided to them by both the defendant and the prosecutor. Lucky for us they do not come to any case with a set mind as to what the final outcome should be. Their decision are based on laws created by our state legislators and past decisions of the court system.
I know that Chief Criminal Judge Albert (Pat) Murdoch’s latest comments have cause some in the community to wonder just why a judge would comment on an ongoing case. I get the feeling that this judge was just trying in a very misguided way to defend both the program and people who run the program that over time have becomes close to him due to their lobbying activities. This is an example of the strongest argument that no one from the correction facilities in this county should have a personal relationship with any of our judges now or in the future and that they should be excluded from having any part in the release of someone in their custody.