ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In an effort to combat crime in the Albuquerque metro area, State Auditor Wayne Johnson said his office will look into possible gaps within the Second Judicial District.
The special audit focuses on seven agencies – District Court, Metro Court, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Metropolitan Detention Center, the Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.
Johnson hopes the audit helps identify problems that negatively impact the criminal justice system, pointing to the rate at which suspects get released. He said auditors have already met with agencies regarding the audit.
“As auditors, we can look at each piece of the system and how those pieces mesh together,” Johnson said. “We can help mend the cracks that lead to horrible crimes like the one Taylor is accused of committing.”
According to his office, the district attorney pursued detention in 16 percent of felony filings in 2017, and judges deny those requests about half the time.
Several of those released then commit other crimes, Johnson said. The auditor pointed to a suspect, Charles Taylor, accused of raping a 57-year-old in her home after his release on auto burglary charges.
“When judges and prosecutors don’t have all the facts because the systems aren’t communicating, criminals like Charles Taylor fall through the cracks,” Johnson said. “The consequences are devastating for people’s lives and for the City of Albuquerque as a whole. We can do better.”
Each agency has 60 days to contract with an independent public accountant for the audit. Once completed, Johnson will make recommendations to policymakers. Johnson said the audits will likely take five to six months to finish.
Johnson, a former Bernalillo County commissioner who Gov. Susana Martinez appointed as state auditor when Tim Keller became Albuquerque mayor, is running in this year’s election to retain his current position.