The crime problem is on everyone’s minds this election season.
The Civil Rights Coalition says tougher punishment is not the answer and it is using a new poll to make its case.
NM Safe said voters already know how they want their elected officials to tackle the state’s crime problem.
“Folks really believe that it’s just good sound policy to have rehabilitation and not punitive approaches to reforming our criminal justice system.”
Gabe Sanchez, the principal of the survey firm Latino Decisions, said those findings of more treatment instead of prison time come from a new poll that reveals overwhelming support for criminal justice reform in New Mexico.
“A third of New Mexicans indicate they themselves have been a crime victim. So this is very personal to a lot of folks,” Sanchez said at a press conference that revealed the poll results on Monday.
The report states that 72 percent of people — including victims of crime — support sending people with drug addictions to rehab instead of prison; and 85 percent supported treatment instead of prison for people with mental health disabilities.
Sanchez said no matter how the question was posed to the 500 registered voters, people supported treatment over stiffer sentences as a way to help prevent repeat criminal offenses.
“We were essentially looking at what might cause people wanting to see more people put behind bars. What about violent criminals, serious criminals, etc.? Same outcome is holding across the data,” Sanchez said.
In September, the state’s top cop said he does not believe treatment works for everyone and that some people just cannot be rehabilitated.
“I believe in treatment. I believe there’s a place for that. But at some point, you’re not amenable to that. That’s most of the people in prison,” New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said.
NM Safe has a roadmap it plans to present at the next legislative session. It says their priorities to present to the legislature in January include reentry and reintegration; parole and prison reform; drug policy and sentencing.
This comes on the heels of the ACLU’s proposal to cut prison sentences by as much as 80 percent. They plan to also bring that proposal to the legislature in January.