New Mexico Statistical Analysis Center Projects

The following list summarizes both ongoing and recently completed NMSAC research projects. Final reports can be accessed by clicking on the NMSAC Publications link in the menu to the left.

Assessment of bail reform in New Mexico

In 2016, New Mexico voters passed a constitutional amendment to reform bail practices in the State. The amendment is intended to ensure that non-dangerous defendants are not detained pretrial simply because they cannot afford to post bond while simultaneously ensuring that dangerous defendants are not released just because they are able to post bond. The New Mexico Statistical Analysis Center received funding from the Bureau of Justice Statistics to assess bail reform. This is a multi-phase study. The first phase focused on creating baseline performance measures to assess pre-amendment practices, using data from four county detention centers, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), and the Department of Public Safety. The second phase focused on implementation. For this portion of the study, we interviewed judges, prosecuting attorney, defense attorneys, and pretrial services staff across the state; observed court hearings; and reviewed relevant publications and other documents.  The study documents the implementation of bail reform by describing the pretrial process as it pertains to release decisions and perceived impact of the amendment, including reform success and areas for improvement. A third report explores pretrial detention motions and their outcomes using a sample of court cases across the state.  The study addresses three overarching questions: 1) What are the estimated rates of filing for preventative detention? 2) What are the outcomes of these motions? 3) What case and defendant characteristics are associated with prosecutors’ decisions to file for preventative detention and how these are related to pretrial detention outcomes? Most recently, we examined the impact of bail reform in six New Mexico Counties, using data from the AOC and detention centers. The study examines the use of bond in all criminal court cases and for those involving only new felony cases. Among new felony cases, the study also examines pretrial detention practices, pretrial performance among those released, and court efficiency. The next phase will examine the impact of bail reform on misdemeanants, and the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on bail reform practices using data from detention centers and the AOC.

Felony case progression and prosecutorial decision-making

This Bureau of Justice Statistics-funded study will examine the progression of felony cases through New Mexico’s criminal justice system. The study will assess charging decisions across judicial districts, by crime type, and by case initiation type. We will also use this opportunity to explore whether and how the restrictions placed on the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic influence case progression and prosecutorial decision-making. Finally, among a smaller sample of cases, we will explore the progression and outcomes of cases initiated via preliminary hearings as compared to those initiated via grand jury indictment.

Evaluation of Summer Intensive Research Internship (SIRI)

The NMSAC is working with the School of Engineering Department at the University of New Mexico to complete an evaluation of the internship component of the NSF-funded CPS Frontier: Cognitive Autonomy for Human CPS. Both formative and summative evaluation components are included.