January 15, 2018
Mayor Tim Keller
Office of the Mayor
PO Box 1293
Albuquerque, NM 87103
Dear Mayor Keller,
I read the recent article in the Albuquerque Journal “Crime tops Keller’s legislative list”, published Saturday January 13, 2018. I think the plan the article says you have put forward is only one third of the needed effort to reduce crime in Albuquerque.
I know there is a violent crime problem, but there is also a large non-violent crime problem here in Albuquerque. I think I heard a couple of days ago that close to 20 vehicles per day are stolen here. I think non-violent crime could be a gateway to violent crime. A non-violent crime (drugs, property, robbery, burglary, mail / shipped box theft, shop-lifting, car break-in or theft) could easily become violent crimes and involve a weapon of some sort. Non-violent crimes often turn into violent crimes if ‘something’ goes wrong.
I think crime is greatly deterred by three factors: first,the chance of getting caught, then the chance of being prosecuted (without a technicality coming up and the case being thrown out, which should go against the official making the blunder, instead of it making the criminal instantly innocent), and finally, the punishment. If any of these three factors drops to a low likelihood, the overall deterrent to crime drops. Your plan only involves increasing deterrent #1, and none of the others. I attended DA Torrez’s talk at the North Domingo Baca Multi-Generational Center right before Christmas. He said he is concentrating on violent crimes, and does not have the funding or people to pursue and prosecute non-violent criminals. Thus deterrent #2 for non-violent crime is now zero, the criminals know that, and thus there is now no deterrent for non-violent crimes in Bernalillo County. I feel the APD officers also know this and it has lowered their incentive to find these criminals. Mr. Torrez said his department receives much less money per capita than other DAs around the state [ed note: Michael Hendricks, Rep. candidate for Attorney General said this was wrong]. This is what you need to campaign to the legislature about: more money for the DA office so they can prosecute these non-violent criminals.
Last fall our police chief, in a memo, told officers that for many non-violent crimes (property, shop lifting, etc.) the criminal should just get a citation, not be arrested (http://www.koat.com/article/apd-no-longer-to-make-arrests-for-non-violent-misdemeanor-crimes/9662869). They are criminals and probably gave a fake name to the officer. Are they going to show up for a citation hearing or to pay a fine? This was all due to a lawsuit by a non-violent criminal injured while in jail; SO FIX THAT PROBLEM instead of not arresting these criminals. Arrests show a paper trail of a career criminal’s past for future prosecution. So deterrent #1 is now also zero for many non-violent crimes.
Our prisons are like a summer camp for many of these criminals, warm bed, three meals, better recreational facilities than many of our high schools, dental and health care. (Pretty soon I won’t be surprised if taxpayers are forced to pay for sex change hormones and operations for inmates.) Due to prison population constraints they get more living space than they had outside jail. Prisoners are treated better than our service men and women (I’ve seen the dorms on base). It costs close to twice the average NM family income to incarcerate a criminal in jail. Thus usually jail or prison is not really a deterrent, and factor #3 is also pretty low. The only thing these locked up criminals can’t do is go about their usual illegal activities (dealing, stealing vehicles, and other types of theft, although some evidently still run their criminal activities while inside). I do think the sheriff of Maricopa County had it correct with his tent city, pink underwear, etc. I’d be all for bringing back chain gangs, prisoners not having any liberties, or any luxuries, etc. Prison should be a deterrent, though I agree they should have access to a law library. At least New Mexico does not allow conjugal visits.
Personally I, and several state judges I’ve talked with at various meetings, believe these non-violent crimes are done in the ‘first degree’: that is, they are planned out then executed; they are done on purpose and deliberately. If they get caught and just let go, they’ll just be more careful next time. Many violent crimes are not planned out, they just happen, often in a drunken rage. Therefore I think the DA should find the resources to prosecute these ‘non-violent’ criminals, and the punishment should be just as stiff, and often times greater than even involuntary manslaughter. Over the last 30 or so years we have tried all kinds of treatments, therapy, and being more ‘humane’ in the ways we handle these criminals. Guess what? It’s Not Working! Crime is getting more prevalent as criminals learn they can ‘get away with it’ in broad daylight. I think its time we reverse course and try a more hard-nosed approach, something they can understand; just like how we are making headway with the terrorists from the mid-east and with North Korea.
Courtesy : Paul Hillman