This one should make the critics of the Santa Fe justice system happy.
Mary Jo Chavez, 48, has been booked into the Santa Fe County jail at least 20 times since 1999. I say at least because to my knowledge, the online jail booking database only goes back about that far.
Emails sent Monday morning trying to verify that with both jail administrator David Trujillo and County Corrections Director were not answered. I suppose they were too busy keeping up with the Mary Jo Chavez’s of the world to get get back to me on that tough question. I digress…
Regardless of how far back the online jail records go, the fact is Chavez is a person who has multiple felony convictions (forgery, breaking and entering, escape from custody, bringing contraband into jail, etc.) on her record … has seven DWI arrests with at least three convictions I could verify … now has two pending DWI cases … is supposed to be on probation with the corrections department through 2012 following a prison sentence she served in Grants … pleaded no contest in March to shoplifting … was arrested in August and charged with DWI (sixth DWI arrest on a case that is still pending in Municipal Court) … and was arrested again last week (Oct. 19) on what looks like to me is DWI arrest No. 7 after police responded to a minor traffic accident she may have caused while drunk (she told police she drank four margaritas … blood test results are still pending and she was also driving without a license, which has happened multiple times over the past decade or so).
So why wouldn’t she be allowed to walk out of jail without paying a dime? Makes sense in these parts, right?
There may be a good reason for it, but we don’t know. Telephone messages left at the office of Santa Fe County Magistrate George Anaya Jr. who last week released Chavez on an appearance bond despite knowing of her DWI history were not returned for the story I wrote Monday.
I know the judge was aware at least of the prior DWIs, if not the other prior felony charges, because he acknowledged the police reports in court that referenced Chavez as having six prior DWIs. He said that right before issuing the $10,000 appearance bond — a bond that allows her to get out of jail pending her trial without paying anything unless she skips out on future court hearings.
It seems her problem isn’t with showing up to court hearings, though. It seems her problem is being out of jail.
Court records shoe that Chavez, while incarcerated in Grants for an 8-year prison sentence handed down by state District Judge Michael Vigil in 2005 (she served a few years of it with good time and a lot of credit for time served), requested her sentence be reduced due to a list of medical conditions. Vigil denied the request to reduce the sentence according to court files.
Here is the story posted Monday and published in Tuesday’s New Mexican: