Dear Editor:

Fabian Gonzales to be released, but is it Judge Brown's fault?

We all know too well that ABQ is a crime hub and many of us have actually experienced the criminal scourge against our homes, vehicles, and families.

The ire that boils up in us due to these violations, requires that we respond and that we respond in force. We begin to see evil everywhere and we demand justice. However, how will that justice be met out?

In this case, Fabian was originally charged with a heinous murder; however, upon further investigation, it was found that his role in this heinous act was complicit after the fact. He has been in jail for three years on a $1mm cash only bond. So, the question becomes, why let him out now, what has changed?

The answer: the people of NM voted in an amendment to provide a "greater fairness" in the process of bonds and pretrial release. We, the people of NM, said, through our vote, it was not "fair" to make a defendant without financial resources stay in jail just because that defendant could not afford a bond. However, we may not have known how the newly minted amendment would actually play out through regulations.

The NM Supreme Court went to work on the amendment and through their interpretation created regulations that, with some hyperbole, goes like this.

"If you, the defendant, say you cannot pay a bond, and if the DA cannot prove that you have a previous violent criminal conviction, and if the DA cannot prove, under a relatively high standard, that you are a danger to society or a flight risk, then you are free to roam the streets until your trial."

This is not what the voters of NM voted for in the amendment. We voted to allow defendants who are indigent to be given a reasonable bond that would both protect the judicial system and assure that the defendant would return to court, and protect the defendant's presumption of innocence without a absolute restriction of the defendant's freedoms while they await their day in court. We were Hoodwinked.

Since then, we have seen increased repeat offenders while waiting for their day in court. We have seen people who are charged with heinous crimes released on some conditions, and some on almost no conditions. We have seen the death of the entire bail bonds industry, with the loss of many NM jobs. We have seen crime rise and criminals lose even more respect for law and order.

But, the question then becomes, is this the Judge's fault? In this case Judge Brown and in other cases, other judges. The answer is a resounding, "NO". Why? Because the Judge takes an oath to uphold the law and to implement the law as the arbiter, not as the law maker. This judge used the law that he was handed and made a decision based on the standards required.

So, why do we demonize this judge? Because, we want someone to blame. The guy, Fabian, did a bad thing in our minds and we cannot just allow him to walk free. He needs to be punished. Since we cannot punish him directly, and, as a side note, our DA is not doing a very good job of punishing him either, then we have to demonize the Judge who made the decision to release him. When really, the one that is to blame is Me and You.

However, there is also good news. "What is that good news, Michael", you might ask. Well, thank you for asking. The good news is that we can undo the mistake we made. We can have a do over. How? By remembering what these elected officials have done and making them pay, at the ballot box.

Here's the problem with this good news. The problem is that we are fickle people. We will be very angry about this story for a few weeks and we will swear revenge, but then, we will go back to life and we will forget. And, we will be busy making our livelihood and taking care of our families, and doing what good citizens do, that we will lose this anger and forget the heinous acts, and not remember the elected officials who were complicit, and we will not make them pay.

The solution is simple. I have a vision of people in NM rising up. This vision is not about just one event that happens in November of every year. This vision is about relationships. Every person, in every neighborhood knows 5 other people. And, those 5 people, know 5 more people. And, so on and so on. We must crowd source information in our neighborhoods. We must create and foster relationships that encourage debate and thoughts. Neighbors talking to neighbors about their concerns and fears. And, then, coming up with solutions on how to fix it. Apathy is kryptonite to a Republic. We must cure the apathy and be about the betterment of not just our own immediate family and circle, but of this beloved city, state, and country of ours.

I am trying to do my part - Will you do your part?

Michael Hendricks
Candidate for NM House District 20