People queue to enter a polling center in Caparra sector in San Juan August 19, 2012. Voters in the U.S. territory went to the polls on Sunday to consider two Constitutional amendments. One would shrink the legislature to 56 seats from 78 and the other would grant local judges the ability to deny bail to suspects accused of certain violent crimes. (Photo : Reuters)
In an unexpected turn of events, Puerto Rican voters rejected two constitutional amendments, which would reduce the size of legislation and would limit some defendants' right to bail.
The Washington Post reported that officials in Puerto Rico said 54 percent of the 805,337 votes counted rejected the legislative measure and 55 percent opposed the bail measure. The results mean that Puerto Rico remains the sole Western Hemisphere nation with the right to bail for all crimes.
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Gov. Louis Fortuno, a pro-statehood Republican, and Sen. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, a pro-commonwealth Democrat, were both in favor of the amendments, reported Reuters. The two are opponents in the November gubernatorial election.
"This would have been a great tool to fight crime," Fortuno said to families supporting the measures the Washington Post reported.
The amendments, had they passed, would have shrunk the size of legislature to 56 seats from 72 and would have allowed judges to deny bail for certain types of crimes, including premeditated murder and sexual assault.
Opponents to the legislative measure argued it would be harder for minority political parties to gain seats.
Supporters for the bail measure said it would help reduce crime on the island, where police recorded 1,117 homicides last year.
According to Reuters, former Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo said the measure would help prosecute murder suspects because witnesses fear for their lives while suspects are out on bail. Toledo said, "Having the accused remain in jail will take away the pressure on a witness and their family."