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Albuquerque crime problem needs to be addressed now

We have a crime crisis in Albuquerque, and it’s now intolerable. This is a beautiful state with tremendous potential. None of this matters anymore when rampant crime impacts every aspect of our society and hurts people.

This isn’t a partisan political issue – crime impacts everyone, and particularly the poor where crime rates are historically higher. No one has the perfect solution to this problem, but enforcing our laws with discipline and consistency is a necessary first step.

There are lots of excuses as to why this is happening, but too often it’s blamed on inequities in our society. Inequities aren’t an excuse for criminal acts; no one has a right to harm anyone. And, taking a “soft approach” to reducing criminal behavior doesn’t work and never has.

Apparently one of our judiciary’s concerns is reducing the recidivism rate of criminals. While that’s noble, that responsibility belongs to the executive branch. Judges are releasing criminals who belong behind bars simply to reduce jail populations and make their own wishful effort at reducing recidivism. That’s absolutely reckless and puts citizens at risk.

The criminal justice system in the United States today ranges from Vermont’s “Restorative Justice” policies at one end, to Texas’ “tough on crime” policies at the other. A fair system more closely aligned to Texas is what will keep Albuquerque safe. Our local governments are obligated to provide public safety, especially for the defenseless. Failing that, the elected officials in positions tasked to combat crime fail their obligation to our citizens.

Then there is the recently agreed compact between so-called judicial “stakeholders” that produced a “new” sentencing process to only send those criminals to jail who represent a risk to the public. An incarceration policy, by the way, developed by an out-of-state nonprofit organization that operates in concert with the ACLU and is financially supported by George Soros. That shouldn’t make anyone feel good, much less feel safer. You simply can’t release a thousand criminals from the county jail back on the streets of Albuquerque without really bad consequences.

We need to enforce our laws and seek common-sense solutions, such as adding temporary jail space. The latter, by the way, is not “cruel and unusual punishment.” As a 17-year-old Marine private I slept in a tent and ate in a field mess. We can keep convicted criminals, not the most dangerous ones of course, in these kinds of temporary facilities instead of allowing them on the streets. The increase in crime in Albuquerque is directly related to the failure of the judiciary to keep criminal predators in jail. Consequently the criminal activity now taking place is harming this community and killing its future. We’ve had business leaders threaten to leave this city unless the crime problem is brought under control, and you can’t fault them for that. Our company has had employees leave for the same reason. When people are scared, they’ll vote with their feet. With our stagnant economy and disproportionally high poverty we shouldn’t accept, nor can we afford, judges letting out-of-control crime chase people and businesses out of New Mexico.

The brave men and women of our local law enforcement agencies are doing the best job they can under difficult and dangerous circumstances. It is not without note that the number of police officers killed in the line of duty in the United States is up more than 30 percent for the past 12 months compared to the preceding year. The district attorney and the judiciary have no chance but to get tougher with criminals. So, for Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels, Second Judicial District Court Chief Judge Nan Nash, Metropolitan Court Judge Henry Alaniz, District Attorney Raúl Torrez and Bernalillo County Manager Julie Baca, know that you have now taken ownership of Albuquerque’s crime problem. Fix it fast, or you’ll ruin Albuquerque’s struggling economy and we’ll be well on our way to becoming another Detroit!

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