ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A former state representative, who's also a former FBI agent and police chief, says New Mexico isn't sending nearly enough of its violent criminals to prison.
Dennis Kintigh crunched the numbers. He says New Mexico has more murders and violent crimes per capita than any other state in the southwest.
New Mexico also send fewer of those violent criminals to prison than any other state in the southwest.
Kintigh says that's a failure of the judicial system.
"If you look at how many people we have in prison versus how much crime we have, we are way below the national standard, nationwide and all of our neighbors," Kintigh said.
The numbers don't make New Mexico look good.
Murders per capita far exceed out neighboring states. Based on 2011 data, New Mexico was second in the nation for homicides per 100,000 people.
New Mexico also has a higher rate of violent crime per capita compared to all of our neighbors, more than doubling the rate of Colorado.
But the state also have fewer people in jail compared to all those other states.
Other states in the southwest have more than twice as many inmates as New Mexico per capita. Colorado had 50 percent more.
Kintigh says that comes down to prosecutors cutting plea deals and judges going easy on criminals, giving them probation or suspending their sentences.
"I think they just fail to understand that people who are violent and harmful need to be incarcerated. They have forfeited the right to be out among the public," Kintigh said.
He also says overcrowded jails should not be an excuse for light sentences, saying cost shouldn't be a concern when it comes to keep streets safe and getting justice for victims.
"What New Mexico fails to do is treat victims of crime with respect," Kintigh said. "We fail to show them the dignity they deserve."
KRQE News 13 reached out to judges, defense attorneys, and district attorneys. No one wanted to give their take on why New Mexico doesn't send as many of its violent criminals to prison as other states.
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