January 18, 2016

Report: NM fourth-most dangerous state in the U.S.

New Mexico is once again the fourth-most dangerous state in the country, at least according to the latest yearly survey of violent crime by 24/7 Wall Street.

Blue LightsThe annual survey from the financial news website is based mainly from violent crime rates from the FBI 2014 Uniform Crime Report, which is the most comprehensive look at crime in the nation. It will be sure to fuel the effort from New Mexico Republican legislative leadership and Gov. Susana Martinez to pass “tough on crime” bills this upcoming legislative session.

Republicans this session are supporting a tougher state “three strikes” law against violent repeat offenders, adding law enforcement officers as a protected class in the state’s Human Rights Act and increasing their pay.

“The data clearly shows that violent crime in New Mexico is too high, and we need to do something about it,” State Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, said in a prepared statement from House Republicans.

Some lawmakers on both sides, however, have pledged to sponsor bills aimed at reforming certain types of criminal penalties—a path that most states across the country appear to be heading.

The survey ranks states by breaking down the FBI data into eight categories: murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. It also considers household income, educational attainment and poverty rates taken from the U.S. Census.

New Mexico’s violent crime rate ranked at 597.4 incidents for every 100,000 residents. That’s more than one-and-a-half times the national rate of 366 incidents per every 100,000 people.

The report notes that immigrants and Hispanics will feel the brunt of the crimes more than other groups because of high poverty rates in those communities and the link between poverty and crime. New Mexico is home to the second-highest poverty rate in the nation.

Aggravated assault is the most frequent violent crime in New Mexico, according to the report, which happened to an average of 422 of every 100,000 people.

New Mexico has the second-highest rate of incidents in the country with 3,542 such incidents for every 100,000 people.

New Mexico previously ranked fourth and second on the same survey from 2013 and 2012, respectively. The financial news website also ranked New Mexico high on another unflattering list—as the worst-run state in the U.S.

The upcoming general legislative session begins Tuesday at noon.