Mandatory jail time does not mean mandatory jail time
Posted on Aug 11, 2010 12:00am PDT
In New Mexico, some statutes require criminal defendants to spend mandatory time in jail upon being convicted of certain crimes. Driving while under the influence is one such crime if the case involves an aggravated charge or a subsequent conviction.
In the past, there had been some judges that allowed those convicted to serve the mandatory time in a work-release program, while others viewed the statutes as requiring the convicts to spend mandatory time in jail exclusively. In State v. Woods, 2010 NMCA 017 (Ct. App. 2010) the Court of Appeals held that it is within the judge’s authority to sentence a criminal defendant convicted of a crime that requires mandatory jail time to a house arrest program that involved electronic monitoring.
The Court of Appeals' decision affirms previous precedent that points to the judge's unique qualifications and powers to make the correct call in determining what a fair sentence should be. I am hoping the Court of Appeals decision has a quick impact on the expensive burden on the taxpayers' need to finance the housing of inmates that would be better served by counseling or rehabilitation that they can pay for while housing themselves.