Tackling New Mexico’s Crime Problem
Crime is a problem that many New Mexican’s face every day. Whether it’s a stolen vehicle or an incarcerated individual struggling to get back on their feet, New Mexico’s criminal justice system needs a lot of work. Viante has chosen metrics to help grade and track the efforts of New Mexico’s lawmakers on the important issue of crime.
Experts have shared with us that crime is largely driven by substance abuse. As a state and a country, we need to do more at every level to address substance abuse. We want to see our elected officials crafting legislation that does just that.
When we think about crime, it’s easy to look at it simply from an incarceration perspective. Instead, we must look at the criminal justice system in New Mexico as a whole. Viante measures how well we help incarcerated individuals get back on their feet by looking at changes in the incarceration rate, recidivism rate, and parole completion rate. It is through opportunity and support that we can help end the cycle of crime.
New Mexico’s crime problem isn’t going to change overnight. But at Viante, we believe that transparency and accountability for our lawmakers and the entire criminal justice system will help make New Mexico a safe place to call home.
Violent Crime and Property Crime Rates
New Mexico is ranked #1 in the nation for our property crime rate and ranked #2 in the nation for our violent crime rate. In fact, New Mexico’s violent crime rate is 89.7% higher than the national average and the property crime rate is 52.5% higher than the national average.
Substance Abuse Deaths
According to the various experts we’ve spoken to, violent and property crime rates are connected to substance abuse. In fact, 65% of incarcerated individuals meet the criteria for substance abuse disorder while an overwhelming 80% of just criminal offenders abuse drugs or alcohol. The relationship between drugs and crime is complicated and while not every person who uses drugs commits crimes, and not every criminal uses drugs, experts believe there is a strong correlation between the two. When an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it significantly impairs their ability to make good decisions. While not everyone will self-report if they are suffering with this type of addiction, the Center for Disease Control and prevention can more accurately track deaths related to these epidemics.
Recidivism Rate and Parole Completion Rate
Recidivism is the tendency for a convicted criminal to reoffend and as we’ve seen in the news there are many people who end up repeatedly committing crimes. We’ve coupled the recidivism rate with the parole completion rate because each indicates if the criminal justice system helped get someone on the right path. The total number of completions used for this metric indicates the number of people who successfully completed their paroles without violations, new sentencing or other complications. Focusing on legislation that would improve these two metrics would decrease our crime rate in New Mexico.
Change in Incarceration Rate
This metric measures the compound annual growth rate of those in state and federal prisons per 100,000 people. The U.S. imprisons more of its citizens than any other developed nation. The U.S. has about 5% of the world’s population, but approximately 25% of the world’s prisoners. Currently New Mexico is 44th in the nation for annual growth rate of prisoners according to the US and News Report. For many of those incarcerated individuals, the prison can become a revolving door and many experts have been critical of whether our correctional facilities actually “set someone on the right path following their time served.”