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Study: Albuquerque area crime increased with poverty

Jul 19, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An uptick in crime unfolded in the Albuquerque area over a recent multiyear period as poverty and other social issues worsened in the state's largest metro area, according to a legislative report released Thursday.The report that reviewed crime statistics and other data in Bernalillo County was released by analysts with the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, a key panel that helps to set spending priorities for the state. The analysts also found that as crime increased, the police, courts and prosecutors in the county struggled to keep up with the growing caseload.According to the report, arrests and indictments overall saw a year-over-year decline between 2013 and 2015.Convictions also declined in the final years of the study. Figures showed that in 2015 there were about 4,000 convictions. In 2017, there were roughly half as many.The study says different agencies that make up the county's criminal justice system have enacted reforms to help curb crime.Each felony case resulting in a conviction came with $169,000 in costs for taxpayers and victims. The total accounted for police and prosecution expenses, financial loss suffered by victims and ultimately prison time for the offender.Bernalillo County is home to Albuquerque and more than a quarter of New Mexico residents.The county's poverty rate for families with children jumped almost three points to 14.5 percent between 2010 and 2016.The crime problem had been the focus of partisan debate among lawmakers until 2018, when they drafted and passed a package of laws with bipartisan approval during the most recent legislative session.The legislation included measures aimed at improving police staffing levels and getting more jails to enroll inmates in need of substance abuse and mental health treatment into Medicaid. Similar initiatives were included as recommendations in the Legislative Finance Committee's report.National figures show violent crime in Albuquerque in 2016 jumped around 16 percent. The city that year had a violent crime rate of 1,112 incidents per 100,000 residents.Albuquerque also had a property crime rate per 100,000 residents of 6,860 — more than twice the average for cities with a population of 250,000 or more. National figures for 2017 have not yet been released.Bernalillo County officials welcomed the report, saying Thursday that it endorsed many of the initiatives they have adopted over the past three years, including new behavioral health programs and a risk assessment tool for helping judges decide who can be released pending trial.