Data-Driven Approach & Crime Strategies Unit (CSU)
Data doesn’t lie. The data shows that a significantly high proportion of crime in Albuquerque is driven by a small number of repeat offenders. To more effectively identify and prosecute those crime drivers, Raúl created New Mexico’s first ever Crime Strategies Unit (CSU) which uses a data-driven approach to locate those individuals and root out crime where it matters most. Partnering with various institutions around the country and some of the brightest minds in our own community, Raúl has developed a state-of-the-art data analytics system. With volunteer specialists from Sandia National Labs, Raúl is now able to compile data from multiple agencies to create a comprehensive picture of crime trends in our community and deploy targeted resources to dramatically improve public safety.
Raul’s pioneering, data-driven approach has caught the attention of prosecution leaders from across the country and was recently showcased at the Intelligence Driven Prosecution Symposium, which was convened right here in Albuquerque. It has also been recognized by the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution and is quickly becoming a model for the future of prosecution and crime-prevention.
Community Based Crime Reduction & Group Violence Intervention
Raúl also believes in utilizing non-traditional prosecutions methods to help break the cycle of crime.
Albuquerque’s International District is home to a disproportionate crime. It’s also home to incredible community leaders who are fighting every day to make their community safer. In 2019 Raul obtained a one million dollar federal grant to implement a community-based crime reduction strategy, bringing together community leaders to create a targeted, narrowly tailored plan that addresses the community’s needs. The goal of this strategy is to reduce crime by fortifying the relationship between the community and the criminal justice actors like the District Attorney, the US Attorney, and the Albuquerque Police Department and linking local revitalization efforts in the community.
Additionally, Raúl has partnered with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at New York University to implement Group Violence Intervention (GVI). GVI is a strategy that reduces gang-related violence by using community engagement. The strategy targets specific community leaders and groups who meet face-to-face with identified individuals who are at risk of falling into the cycle of crime. The community and law enforcement leaders seek to intervene and provide support and alternatives to violent behavior, including protection, transportation, emergency housing, and access to job training, education, and substance abuse treatment.
Adverse Childhood Experiences
As a career prosecutor, Raul recognizes that we must do more to prevent crime not just punish offenders and that’s why he has been a leading voice in reducing early childhood trauma in our community. New research into Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) demonstrates how the incidence of early childhood trauma correlates with poor health, lack of educational attainment and an increased contact with the criminal justice system. That’s why Raul serves as the co-chair of Mission Families, a new initiative of the United Way of Central New Mexico, which seeks to provide early intervention by providing New Mexican families with secure housing,educational opportunities and specialized services. The goal is to mitigate these adverse experiences before the individual matures to a life of crime.
Modernizing the Office
Upon taking office, Raúl recognized doing business the same way was not an option. So he organized the office around individual offenders, instead of individual crimes, to ensure one prosecutor is seeing the multiple crimes each offender has. This, along with data-driven tactics, is ensuring fewer criminals are back on the streets and non-violent offenders are put into diversion programs. This allows the office to prioritize resources around the crime drivers who account for a significant proportion of crime in our community.
Raúl also recognized that the speed of case processing - not just the severity of punishment - held the key to sustained improvements in public safety. Before his administration, felony cases took nearly 182 days from arrest to initiation. By the first quarter of 2019 that time had been reduced by 90%, with an average time to initiation of only 20 days, Raúl has transformed the criminal justice system in Bernalillo County. With faster resolutions, rising conviction rates and more cases being processed, the system is once again poised to deliver justice for our community.
Improving Office Morale/Conditions
The District Attorney’s office is the largest law firm in the state, with over 300 attorneys, paralegals, secretaries, investigators and other staff. Overlooked for nearly a decade, Raúl fought for - and won - the largest budget increase in the agencies history. This has allowed the Office to hire and retain talented attorneys, staff, and specially trained investigators to improve the quality of prosecution.
Additionally, Raúl removed and digitized hundreds of boxes of papers from the office. Previously, these boxes lined the hallways, workstations, and almost all usable space in the office. These boxes contained age old files and posed a fire hazard for the office. Raúl cleared, inventoried, and cleared those boxes from the office.
Victim’s Service Alliance and Resource Center
In 2018, Raúl launched the Victim Resource Center. The Resource Center is a dedicated area in the office which provides a safe place for victims and their families during court hearings. Additionally, the Resource Center has a remote kiosk for victims to file for protection orders and is equipped with a kitchen, lounge, and private meeting rooms. Raul also secured funding to provide a courtroom service dog, Woodstock, to help soothe and comfort victims.
In addition to the Resource Center, Raúl wanted to increase the number of victim advocates who helped victims during the criminal justice process and provide support, information, and other resources for victims. To that end, Raúl coordinated the creation of the Victim Service Alliance. The Alliance is staffed by victim advocates from the office and volunteer victim advocates who are trained to provide support for victims. The VSA works in partnership with community organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), the NM Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Crime Victims Reparation Commission, the Rape Crisis Center, and the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death.
Clearing the Backlog
Upon taking office, there were over 8000 uninitiated felony cases. Raúl worked diligently to clear the backlog by going through all of the cases and identifying the most serious and violent offenders and taking them off our streets. He dedicated specific attorneys and staff to clear the backlog and provide those victims with some closure.
In 2017, there were over 4000 sexual assault kits that remained untested, each of those belonging to a victim awaiting justice. In 2019, Raúl obtained a Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant to begin clearing that backlog of sexual assault kits and providing closure to those victims. The SAKI grant has been used by the Special Victims Unit (SVU) and APD to identify offenders and begin clearing the sexual assault kit backlog.