- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The criminal arrest of an adult in New Mexico is a matter of permanent public record regardless of whether it results in a conviction, but a new poll indicates many likely voters in the state would approve of changing that.

Just under half of those surveyed by the Albuquerque Journal, 49 percent, said they would support a state law that gets rid of public access to records of most arrests that don’t lead to convictions. That’s compared to 38 percent who said they would oppose such change, the Journal reports (https://goo.gl/ArlNgE).

“This comes down to people’s gut feelings on the individual privacy issues versus the public’s right to know,” said Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc. “They’re leaning toward privacy, but not overwhelmingly.”

The new poll was conducted Sept. 9 through 11 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. The sample is based on a scientific, statewide survey of 500 voters who cast ballots in the 2010 and 2012 elections and said they were likely to vote again this year.

All interviews were conducted live by professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone. Land lines, 73 percent, and cellphone numbers, 27 percent, of proven general election voters were used.

Legislation allowing most criminal records to be expunged for individuals who were acquitted or had their charges dropped passed the Legislature in 2007 but was vetoed by then-Gov. Bill Richardson. The legislation would have prohibited striking arrest records for crimes against children, sex crimes, domestic violence and driving while intoxicated.

According to the Journal survey, independents were slightly more likely than others to opt for increased privacy with 54 percent in support. For Democrats, 51 percent were in favor. Among Republicans, support was 45 percent.

Geographically, voters in New Mexico’s northwest region voiced the strongest opposition. From that region, 57 percent of likely voters said no.

“On the one hand, if a person is arrested but not convicted, should this stay on their record for decades to come and perhaps jeopardize job opportunities?” Sanderoff said. “On the other hand, if a person has a pattern of arrests and no convictions, is this something that should be accessible for anyone, from media to employers?”

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com


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