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Bail Reform needed in Pima County

TUCSON – Bail Reform is on the minds of many district attorneys around the country.

A two day conference of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys wrapped up its conference here in Tucson.

It was hosted by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall.  The top 40 prosecutors in country were in Tucson to exchange and discuss best practice ideas.

District Attorney Raul Torrez represents the 2nd Judicial District in Albuquerque New Mexico.  He said a number of states including New Mexico have established a system where they moved to a risk based system as opposed to a system that’s built around someone’s financial means.

Pima County Barbara LaWall has been talking about Bail Reform.  Her office gave the example of a homeless woman who spent 45 days behind bars for stealing a candy bar.    She was nonviolent and low risk but couldn’t afford to post bail.  It cost taxpayers about $45,000 for her incarceration.

In contrast there was a man who was arrested for the attempted murder of police officers.  He posted the $150,000 cash bail and was released.

So the County Attorney’s office said that’s an example of why Bail Reform is needed.

Torrez said in New Mexico they had a situation where the county jail was bursting at the seams for a number of years in part because they had low risk people who were held who could not post bond.  He added the cost to taxpayers was enormous.

Since they instituted Bail Reform he said they’ve dramatically reduced the jail population in Bernalillo County.

He does admit there are some issues they’re working on that would require new legislation.

However the main focus is public safety.


Caitlin Alexander

Caitlin Alexander

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