State analysts review factors fueling Albuquerque crime rate

January 16, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Analysts for the Legislative Finance Committee are undertaking a review of the criminal justice system in Bernalillo County — a jurisdiction that includes Albuquerque, where crime has been on the rise in recent years.

Jon Courtney and Travis McIntyre told lawmakers at a hearing in Santa Fe on Monday that they expect to complete a report this spring on factors contributing to Albuquerque’s rising crime rate.

They are reviewing what effect — if any — a lagging economy, drug abuse and gang activity have had on crime. They also are examining whether a series of criminal justice reforms and other changes to the system in the last several years have played a part in driving up crime rates, while noting that there is no evidence yet to suggest that is the case.

The number of property crimes has been increasing year over year in the city since 2010, and violent crime began to spike in 2013, according to an analysis of FBI crime that Courtney and McIntyre presented lawmakers. Among the nation’s 30 largest cities, Albuquerque saw the highest increase in overall crime from 2014 to 2016, they said.

Among the findings so far:

— People with multiple arrests on their record committed the vast majority of crimes from 2010 to 2016 in Bernalillo County, and people with more arrests tend to commit more violent crimes, according to a review of arrest data.

— The prospect of a swift and likely arrest is a greater deterrent of crime — especially theft and other property-related offenses — than a statute that proposes to increase the severity of a sentence or punishment for a crime. The analysts cited a National Institute of Justice study in presenting this finding to lawmakers.

“If you’re going to break into a home in Albuquerque and you have an untreated heroin addiction or you’re just a repeat property offender, you’re not somebody who’s engaged in long-term strategic thinking,” added Raul Torrez, the district attorney for Bernalillo County. He also attended the hearing Monday.

“What you want to know is, and what you’re thinking about is: ‘Am I going to get caught today, am I going to be in custody tomorrow and is my case going to be disposed of in the next 30 to 60 days?’” he said.

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