Nearly every day, news headlines across New Mexico show us how unafraid offenders are of the consequences of their actions. The brazen attitudes of offenders are backed up by legislation that has been passed in recent legislative sessions. Legislators have focused on decriminalization and dismantling the police force, but this is only hurting New Mexico families and causing crime to rise. Offenders know there will be no accountability.
When we look at the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) released this October for the previous year, NIBRS data shows that New Mexico crime is among the highest in the nation and is rising. Vehicle-related crimes remain high, but violent crime has quickly overshadowed property crime. Over the last few years, we have watched as the homicide rate in the state has skyrocketed, with Albuquerque’s homicide rate reaching a point that is among the highest in the nation.
The data reported to the FBI also shows New Mexico is the highest in the nation in kidnappings. Analysis of the kidnapping data and New Mexico’s definition of kidnapping shows that “kidnapping” isn’t necessarily the snatching of children, or packing strangers into the back trunk of a vehicle. The New Mexico definition can be far broader, and that definition has even more implications. The NIBRS data uses each state’s definition when the data is sent to the FBI. In New Mexico, kidnapping can include domestic violence incidents where a man throws his ex-partner into a car and holds her at gunpoint or other forms of involuntary imprisonment.
New Mexico’s broader kidnapping definition and the data tell us that New Mexico’s crime problem is impacting more than just the individual when these crimes occur. Since we have domestic-related kidnapping reports, many families are probably impacted by lesser crimes and frequent domestic incidents, which eventually build up to the kidnapping crime where police become involved, a kidnapping charge is made, and a report is filed with the FBI.
It is true that domestics are often brushed aside because a battered partner chooses not to press charges. However, even if the kidnapped individual did follow the case though, New Mexico’s empowerment of criminals over the last several years means kidnappers get a slap on the wrist, and offenders are soon free to commit more violent crimes and further abuse their past victims. This can put an entire multi-generational household at risk, leading to physically or emotionally scarred children, a permanently injured partner, and even homicides.
The solution to lowering all our crime statistics is to be tough on crimes that include kidnapping and homicide. If there are consequences for actions, an individual must choose to commit the crime, and risk the results, knowing they might face a long-lasting prison sentence and rehabilitation.
The burden for stopping the out-of-control crime should lay at the feet of our legislators and governor. Recent legislative sessions have focused on decriminalization and the rights of the accused, but this is causing crime to rise because offenders know there will be no accountability. Prison, rehabilitation, or even options that allow an individual to work during the day and spend time in prison when not at work? All of these options should be on the table if they will help protect our families.
Now is the time for action if our governor and legislators care about New Mexicans. Instead of passing laws to make it harder on law enforcement officers, legislators need to creatively address catch-and-release policies that enable criminals to walk away and return to their lives and habits mere weeks after their crimes. It is never too late to turn the state around and start with good, enforceable laws that keep violent offenders from returning to their old habits and protect New Mexicans so we have fewer families damaged by kidnappings and homicides.
When will enough truly be enough?