I get calls, e-mails and read a ton of reader comments on The New Mexican’s website constantly bashing local judges.
The focus of much of that anger is State District Judge Michael Vigil and, specifically, his sentencing practices which some think are far too lenient and often give convicted criminals with drug problems every opportunity to rehabilitate outside of prison because of his firm belief in the long term benefits for the community of rehabilitation over incarceration., which doesn’t sit well with the throw-the-book-at-em crowd.
That is why I was scratching my head reading a Letter to the Editor in this morning’s New Mexican, which included the following lines:
Families are left to wait in anguish, waiting for the mighty hand of Judge Michael Vigil to come down with a decision. The only solution to Judge Vigil and our current system seems to be prison time.
Really? Vigil? Are we even talking about the same Judge Mike here? The target of so much anger from New Mexican readers?
While the letter written by a Sarah Patterson starts off by implying it is about the Scott Owens vehicular homicide case being tried before Vigil this week, it seems far more likely to me the highly-publicized trial was merely a way for someone with a gripe about the state’s Department of Corrections to air her grievance.
Here is the entire text of the letter (and a link to it on our website):
In the April 10 piece on DWI, the writer says, “Nearly two years after the early morning collision … ” — as if this is uncommon in our “justice” system.
Families are left to wait in anguish, waiting for the mighty hand of Judge Michael Vigil to come down with a decision.
The only solution to Judge Vigil and our current system seems to be prison time. Our ill-named “corrections” system will do nothing to rehabilitate the addict, who, left untreated, can wreak more havoc on society. DWI offenders should be held accountable, but they will only be released to continue using and drinking and hurt again. Our Corrections Department is nothing more than a barbaric place that does not rehabilitate the offender or help families heal. After sentencing, the families of the victims really don’t feel better, and the district attorney counts it as one more notch on his belt. Treatment, not prison.
Sarah Patterson, Santa Fe
I think if Patterson knew Judge Michael Vigil a little better, she would know he often says in open court his opinion of the prison system is absolutely on where there is often little chance for rehabilitation and a high likelihood of people who go to prison being locked into a life of crime rather than put on a road to rehabilitation.
Of course the writer also makes mention of the district attorney using convictions as “one more notch on his belt” leading me again to wonder how familiar Patterson is with the local legal system since the DA of the First District is Angela “Spence” Pacheco.