Our city ranks well below state median in both poverty and crime while being part of a state ranking last in education, second to last in crime and with the third-highest poverty. This is a long-term issue responsible for unnecessary human suffering and has proven to be a deterrent to both economic and population growth. Studies have shown the vast majority of crime is committed by underemployed or unemployed younger adult males with limited education. It is proven children raised in poverty caused by wage and income inequality score significantly lower on assessments of memory, impulse control, achievement, IQ, language skills and attention span.
In his book “The Future of Crime and Punishment,” Dr. William R. Kelly offered the following conclusion: “Poverty is an overarching condition that can lead to a number of crime-related problems. In addition to the neurodevelopmental consequences associated with poverty and violence, disadvantage often results in poorer educational outcomes, income and employment problems, and marital/relationship instability, among others. In effect, poverty limits options, alternatives, and opportunities to such an extent that we celebrate those seemingly rare success stories of someone overcoming the barriers to achievement and success by climbing out of poverty or turning his or her life around after growing up in poverty, going to prison, and then becoming a productive citizen.”
Dr. Kelly also stated the causes of crime to be mental illness, addiction and poverty. Poverty, and the resulting crime, has been a long-standing problem in our state and even more so in our city. Gov. Lujan Grisham has made major improvements in poverty with the increases in our minimum wage and in increased funding for our education system in order to offer a more educated workforce. Even though it will take years to rebuild our education and mental healthcare systems, I am hopeful we can learn to treat addictions as a disease rather than a crime within a much shorter timeframe.
I believe Mayor Jennings will lead in finding and offering solutions to our longstanding crime and poverty issues. For over 40 years our city leaders have been trying to grow our economy by increasing poverty, offering excuses and blaming the progressives in Santa Fe without success. We need to seek new solutions.