Above: the Jose Toledo Federal Building in San Juan
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño has signed several measures aimed at improving security in Puerto Rico.
The first provides the elements necessary to revoke bail for those charged with violent crimes such as murder, rape or burglary when they violate conditions imposed by the court or commit new crimes while on bail.
“Maintaining custody of a defendant who represents a risk helps to protect the community,” he said.
Another measure expands the requirements for defendants on bail with conditions on participation in judicial proceedings, such as meeting a drug test or surrendering one’s passport.
According to Puerto Rico’s Office of Pretrial Services, during the past three years, more than 800 persons accused of crimes that were released on bail violated some of the conditions of their release or committed a new offence.
Fortuño also signed a measure that entitles correctional officers and law enforcement officials to immediately arrest offenders on probation who violate the conditions of their probation.
“We must respond immediately and to the full extent of the law against anyone who endangers the safety of the people,” he said. “These bills will arm our officers with the power to return to the system immediately those who violate this privilege.”
The final measure signed by the governor creates special courts for murder cases. The courts will have their own specific rooms, with judges who specialize in criminal law.
Attorney General Guillermo Somoza-Colombiani said the courts would “improve the distribution of cases of violent crimes that take place in our courts, and hasten the prosecution of persons who represent a security threat.”
“Our goal is to get criminals off our streets so they cannot hurt the families of our communities,” Fortuño said. “We are creating a justice system focused on protecting the victims, not criminals.”