What’s with the flood of crime bills this legislative session?
If you’ve watched any TV news recently you’ve been buried under a barrage of “if it bleeds it leads” reporting. The drum beat about how “boomerang thugs” are wreaking havoc on New Mexico is a near constant thing.
FACT: Violent crime actually decreased in New Mexico by 2% from 2009-2014. Excluding Albuquerque, violent crime was down 13%.
The two big pillars of the Republican “tough on crime” agenda are straight out of the 1980’s: allowing cities to mandate teen curfews and adding a mandatory minimum component to the state’s existing three-strikes law to give life sentences to violent offenders. Both are arcane policies being repealed in other states.
If Republicans really cared about reducing crime in our state they wouldn’t be relying on policies that are proven failures. But they also won’t let facts stand in the way of what this is all really about.
Make no mistake, like most things Susana Martinez and her political cronies propose, these bills are political, meant to make vulnerable Democrats take controversial votes that can be used against them in the next election. “[Rep. Moe Maestas] called the three strikes law the ‘easiest crime bill to message politically’…It’s the best crime bill to put on a postcard in election season…When you get down to brass tax [sic] it doesn’t deter crime.”
Everyone wants safe communities in which to thrive. And our leaders should be putting working families first – not positioning themselves for the next election.
The most effective way to prevent crime in the long run is to focus more resources on programs like early-education, drug abuse treatment, drug courts, mental health services, and family crisis intervention.
Knee-jerk reactions to high-profile crimes won’t bring crime rates down. Only effective investments targeting the causes of crime will do that.
FACT: “Tough-on-crime” Texas is even making investments in the things that actually reduce crime – better treatment, more parole and probation resources – and saw their crime rate drop almost 6% between 2013-2014.
Not to mention that these proposals wouldn’t even have prevented the very crimes they purport to:
“Tony Torrez, the man charged with killing Lilly [Garcia in an ABQ road rage incident], has a criminal past, but was never convicted of a violent offense that would have applied to either the state’s current three strikes law or the expanded list of crimes in Pacheco’s proposed expansion of that law.
House Republicans have pledged to ram all of their failed policies through that chamber by the end of this week.
The three strikes bill (HB 56) is in its second committee (House Judiciary) today at 1:30p. The teen curfew bill (HB 29) will be in that same committee later this week.
As always, we’re in Santa Fe everyday so you don’t have to be. And we’re more active than ever online.
And when you’re posting on social media, be sure to use these hashtags to spread the message that these policies are #WrongForNM: