Reports of sexual assault and misconduct at the University of New Mexico have been on the rise since the school entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, according to recent crime statistics.
Now, organizations representing survivors are demanding that detention centers enforce federal laws against abuse of prisoners and stop separating families, which they say makes kids vulnerable to assault.
KUNM spoke with longtime advocate and attorney Claire Harwell of the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs. Harwell says asylum-seekers are often fleeing sexual violence in other countries before they’re locked up in U.S. facilities, where they may face the the same violence.
People say bad street-lighting contributes to fatalities and violence in some parts of Albuquerque—and national studies bear this out. There’s plenty of finger-pointing, but when it comes to info about broken streetlights, the public’s still mostly in the dark.
People in Albuquerque may think getting busted with a little marijuana results in only a ticket and a fine. But state police officers were sent to Albuquerque in May to crack down on crime, and they’re enforcing state law. That means there’s still a way for even small amounts of weed or paraphernalia to put people here in cuffs.
New Mexico lawmakers on Wednesday, Jan. 30, moved legislation forward that changes the way people who are under 18 are treated when they’re accused of prostitution. Instead of being arrested and subject to criminal punishment, they could be given treatment and services.
Jonathan Sakura looked at the spot where his car was parked outside his home a couple nights ago when someone smashed the rear window and grabbed his girlfriend’s bag. "It’s a bummer. It’s violating," he said. "You know, this is our property. This is our stuff. And somebody taking something that doesn’t belong to them— it’s kinda disheartening, and morale drops a little bit."
Crime is a top concern for Albuquerque residents. Mayor Tim Keller announced Tuesday morning the situation is getting better. Crime rates are dropping, according to a city report looking at the first quarter of this year.
New Mexico’s criminal justice system gets clogged. The courts, the public prosecutors and defenders, they’ve all said they don’t have enough money or staff to process cases fast enough. Growing backlogs, people and details falling through the cracks—those complaints are common. Lawmakers are weighing a bill that would pull minor offenses out of the court system.
New Mexico has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the U.S. There’s no waiting period to buy a firearm, and there aren’t any state laws restricting what kinds of guns people can own. It is llegal for someone convicted of a felony to have one here, and legislators are working to increase the penalty. But that may not be the kind of law gun-control advocates are looking for.
New Mexico has the second-highest recidivism rate in the country, with half of its former inmates landing back behind prison bars within three years. To shrink those numbers, the state House passed a measure that would require jails and prisons to make sure inmates have access to behavioral health services.