Community Forum with Bernalillo County District Attorney Candidate Raúl Torrez (D)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A forum featuring Democratic District Attorney candidate Raúl Torrez (D) will be hosted by statewide and tribal domestic and sexual violence organizations on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 from 6-8 p.m. at the Albuquerque Hispanic Cultural Center. Raúl Torrez, a former federal and state prosecutor, is a candidate for District Attorney in New Mexico’s 2nd Judicial District, which encompasses Bernalillo County.
The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women is co-sponsoring this event along with the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence, New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc. and the New Mexico Women’s Agenda. The forum will provide the opportunity for an important dialogue between the candidate and community members on issues including: domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, prosecution, offender services, culturally appropriate services, language access and domestic and sexual violence victim services.
According the recent analysis of Sex Crimes Trends in New Mexico 2010-2014, published in January 2016, an examination of dismissed cases by district court revealed Albuquerque District Court had the 3rd highest rate of dismissals in the state at 60%.
Another report, the Incidence and Nature of Domestic Violence in New Mexico XV: Analysis of 2015 Data reveals that in 2015, there were 17,757 domestic violence incidents reported to law enforcement throughout New Mexico, with 45% of those reported in Bernalillo County. That same year in Bernalillo County, 58% of the domestic violence cases filed in District Court were dismissed and 92% of those filed in Metropolitan Court were dismissed.
Since Kari Brandenburg has held the District Attorney office for the last 15 years, this upcoming election will bring in new leadership and direction to Bernalillo County. Raúl Torrez, who won the June 7, 2016 Democratic primary election says that he wants a better and safer criminal justice system in Bernalillo county. With a long-standing career working as a federal prosecutor, Raúl Torrez has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“Reducing violence in our community – particularly violence against women and children – will be a top priority when I am Bernalillo County District Attorney. In addition to tough enforcement of our laws in this area, I also believe that there are a number of innovative strategies that we can implement to combat this problem. I look forward to hearing from the community and sharing my ideas during the upcoming forum, and I’m grateful to the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence, New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc., and the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women for putting it on,“ Raúl Torrez stated.
According to Kim Alaburda, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, “It is critical to offer support to and hold responsible our elected officials with respect to the complex nature of responding to sexual violence. The attitudes and actions of our District Attorney creates a community atmosphere of either hope or distrust, dependent on a DA’s views and actions. This directly influences whether a survivor of sexual violence will come forward, report and follow through with the required tasks set forth within the criminal justice system.”
The Policy Coordinator at the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Lisa Weisenfeld, J.D., echoes the need for an improved criminal justice system response, “While the rate of domestic violence in New Mexico is sky high, the prosecution and conviction rates for these crimes are embarrassingly low. New Mexico citizens need and deserve greater levels of accountability from the criminal justice system in communities across this state, but most especially from the largest.”
Deleana OtherBull, the Executive Director for the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, added that, “There is between 55,000 to 60,000 Native people who reside within Bernalillo County – with thousands more who commute daily into Albuquerque from our local tribal communities for work, school, shopping, etc. It is imperative that our new District Attorney understands that Native women and children are victimized at higher rates than their non-Native counterparts and these crimes have overall low prosecution rates.”
The 2016 New Mexico general election will be held on Tuesday November 8th, 2016.
About the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women
CSVANW is a member-driven tribal coalition that represents the broadest and most unified voice in advocating and collectively addressing violence against Native women and children across the region.
An alliance of more than 50 passionate, distinguished and highly committed organizations and individuals, the CSVANW team of staff, Board of Directors and committed membership works aggressively to raise awareness about the safety of Native women and children at the state, tribal and federal levels, in addition to providing the utmost critical lifeline services to those affected by violence.
For more information about the CSVANW, go to www.csvanw.org
About the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc.
New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc. (NMCSAP) was created in 1984 as a private non-profit to prevent and reduce sexual violence in every area of New Mexico through training, policy and funding; to establish evidenced based, trauma informed services to survivors and offenders throughout the state; and to increase the level of expertise among service providers of all disciplines regarding their response to sexual abuse and assault.
For more information about the NMCSAP, go to http://nmcsap.org
About the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence
The New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NMCADV) works to achieve a coordinated local, regional, and statewide response to domestic violence through a collaborative network of member programs that consist of domestic violence service providers and other allied organizations and individuals. The NMCADV serves as a clearinghouse for information and referrals on all domestic violence related issues and services. The coalition collaborates with agencies and advocates in the areas of program development, public policy, education and funding proposals.
For more information about the NMCADV, go to www.nmcadv.org