The Way Forward

In addition to analyzing bills using the “SAFE” litmus test, New Mexico SAFE believes there are other steps we as a state need to take to reduce crime and increase public safety.

Our challenge for the future will be to take the conversation around crime and public safety to a deeper level.  While the economics of criminal justice reform are important, the more meaningful discussion is the devastation and inequities inflicted on families and communities by a system of mass incarceration.  Our coalition will continue to make the case for criminal justice reform because we fundamentally believe in a fair and just society, and we believe that the evidence shows that outdated punishment-oriented policies are both ineffective and unjust.  At a basic level, New Mexico SAFE will continue to make the case for adequately funding our courts, public defenders, and prosecutors as well as programs that promote behavioral health, diversion, and substance abuse recovery.  We will also push for societal acknowledgement that behavioral health and substance abuse are public health issues and should be treated as such.

That said, criminal justice reform efforts will only achieve limited success if they do not truly account for violence in our communities.  New Mexico SAFE will strive to facilitate more nuanced and deliberative conversations around violence in our state. This dialogue must center the voices of survivors of violence, as well as individuals and families who have direct experience with the criminal justice system.  We will try to ascertain root causes of violent behavior to identify ways to stop it before it happens.  Above all, New Mexico SAFE will continue to lead the movement for smart criminal justice reform by providing unbiased, objective analyses and a platform for systemic change.

What do New Mexicans think about public safety?

With crime on the rise in many of our communities, criminal justice and public safety are at the forefront of many New Mexicans minds. But what do New Mexicans really think are the best ways to approach issues of crime and public safety? In August 2018, New Mexico safe commissioned a poll conducted by Latino Decisions to find out. The results indicate that voters in New Mexico want criminal justice reform. A majority of New Mexicans support moving away from a punitive approach to crime towards an approach that centers rehabilitation and treatment as a means of reducing the state's incarcerated population.

Our poll revealed that:

  • 75% of New Mexicans are worried about crime in their communities
  • 70% think it's important to reduce the number of people we incarcerate in our state
  • 75% support rehabilitation and treatment over punitive approaches to crime
  • 72% believe that people suffering from addictions should be in treatment programs, not prison
  • 85% believe that people suffering from mental health disabilities need mental health services, not incarceration
  • A majority of voters are more likely to vote for candidates who support broad criminal justice reform.


Read a full summary of the poll findings here.

View the weighted crosstabs here.

So what next? New Mexico SAFE has created a legislative roadmap to help our state's leaders and policy makers reform our criminal justice system, making it more fair and effective.