Opinion: State Republican Candidates Say Crime Will Become a Key Issue in the Coming Elections

Daniella Cressman

Unfortunately, crime is running rampant in the state of New Mexico. As a result, Nicole Chavez—and other House Republicans—are pushing for additional funding for the New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission.

"Chavez and other Republican House candidates said, if elected, they would push for more funding for the New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission, which provides financial assistance to victims of violent crimes. They also want lawmakers to reconsider an effort to alter the state’s pretrial detention process, putting the burden on defendants to prove they pose no further risk of violence if they are released until trial." —Robert Nott

Sadly, this measure failed to gain traction in the 2022 session.

Nonetheless, lawmakers approved a sweeping crime bill that includes more severe penalties for violent offenders and recruitment and retention stipends for police officers.

"...lawmakers did approve a sweeping crime bill that includes stiffer penalties for violent offenders and recruitment and retention stipends for police officers. House Bill 68 also removes a statute of limitations on second-degree murder charges, creates the crime of operating a chop shop and makes it a fourth-degree felony to threaten a judge or a judge’s family." —Robert Nott

Despite this crime bill, Rep. William Rhem has accurately stated that more needs to be done.

"Rep. William Rehm, D-Albuquerque, who supported the bill, said the legislation wasn’t extensive enough in some respects and more needs to be done when it comes to stopping repeat offenders from committing more crimes. Rehm cited a recent Albuquerque Journal poll that said 85 percent of New Mexicans surveyed support efforts to change current pretrial detention laws to keep those criminals behind bars as they await trial." —Robert Nott

There are some studies that suggest that such measures would do little to deter crime—those violent offenders will not always break additional laws while awaiting trial.

"Some studies suggest such measures do little to deter crime as those violent offenders are not necessarily likely to break more laws while awaiting trial. A recent Santa Fe Institute and the University of New Mexico’s Center for Applied Research and Analysis released by the Administrative Office of the Courts said about 11 percent of people who are released from jail while awaiting trial are charged with new felony crimes and just 3 percent are charged with committing new violent crimes." —Robert Nott

However, Rhem is correct in stating that 14% is far too high and the study only focuses on those who are caught committing a crime.

"...the study focuses only on those offenders who were caught committing a crime and not those who may have offended and got away. And 14 percent is still too high." —William Rhem

As Nicole Chavez points out, crime is not a partisan issue—it is happening to all of us and it affects everyone.

“Crime is not Republican; it’s not Democrat...It’s happening to all of us. We need to address this situation. There’s got to be changes made.” —Nicole Chavez

Furthermore, many New Mexicans appear to have simply accepted it, regardless of how dire—and dangerous—the situation has become.

"[New Mexicans]...are being conditioned to accept criminal behavior is part of our daily lives — it’s just the way things are. That’s wrong.” —Gregg Cunningham

Unfortunately, Duke City has a reputation for being a dangerous, crime-filled place, which is deeply disturbing, especially if one has chosen to call it home.

“There is a real perception that the city — Albuquerque — is less and less a safe city and that is of great concern to people...was a good start, but it’s only a start. There is a great deal more work we need to do.” —Marian Matthews

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM

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