Marisa Demarco


Marisa Demarco is a reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent more than a decade in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She covered poverty and public health until September 2016 when she became a general assignment reporter at KUNM. 

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Marisa Demarco

The acting U.S. Surgeon General was in New Mexico Tuesday to talk about ways schools and parents can work together to prevent skin cancer.

Boris Lushniak and New Mexico Health Secretary Retta Ward met with school officials, parents and students at Bandelier Elementary School in Albuquerque. 

Lushniak said there used to be a time when a tan was a good thing.

lyzadanger | flickr.com | CC BY SA 2.0

The state’s Human Services Department held a hearing in Santa Fe this morning about changes that would add work requirements to the food stamps program. 

Faith leaders from around the state—along with AARP, family advocates and representatives from food banks—spoke against new requirements for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. They emphasized that hungry people in New Mexico are already looking for work: There just aren’t jobs to be had.

josemanuelerre via Creative Commons

The number of babies born addicted to drugs has risen sharply over the last decade or so in New Mexico. KUNM’s Public Health reporter Marisa Demarco brings us this story of how stigma surrounding addiction and pregnancy is contributing to the increase.

Mia just gave birth to a healthy baby boy even though she was addicted to methamphetamine until about a month and a half before he was born. Her name has been changed in this story to protect her identity. "My number one fear when I was using while pregnant was to lose him or him being born with something wrong," she said

Dr. Randal J. Schoepp via Army Medicine / Creative Commons

The Department of Health sent clinical samples to the CDC today to make sure a New Mexico patient doesn’t have the Ebola virus. 

A 30-year-old woman in Albuquerque went to the hospital this weekend with a sore throat, headache, muscle aches and a fever after returning from a trip to West Africa, where an Ebola epidemic this year has killed more than 1,000 people.

A still from the Town Hall video

Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz hosted a town hall meeting in Carlsbad last night to talk about recovery efforts at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. It's the nation's only underground nuclear waste storage facility, just 26 miles east of the town. WIPP has remained closed since the radiation leak in mid-February, and the cause of the leak remains unclear.

Secretary Moniz promised the crowd that WIPP will re-open, and members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation talked about their efforts to get WIPP the funds it needs to operate safely.

WGN America

KUNM Call In Show Thur. 7/31 8 a.m.

July marked the 69th anniversary of the world's first detonation of an atomic bomb, in New Mexico. And on Monday, “Manhattan,” a fictional show about the scientists who made the bomb, premiered on WGN America.

We’ll be talking about this moment in U.S. history with an eye on how it affected New Mexicans. Did you know there were people living nearby when the Trinity test took place? What are the long-term effects of the Trinity test? What does it mean to us today that the first atomic bomb was detonated right here in our home state?

Public Domain

One year ago, KUNM reported on the effects of the Trinity Test. Thursday, July 16, 2015, is the 70th anniversary of the day the world's first nuclear bomb detonated in New Mexico.

teofila via Compfight cc

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government announced today that the City of Albuquerque will charge no more than $6.75 for DVDs and $2.75 for CDs for public records requests. This is a big win for not just journalists but everyone with an interest in accessing records that are available under the law. The change provides fair, consistent rates and lets people know what prices to expect in advance.

Dusty J via Compfight cc

Reports of drug-facilitated sexual assaults are on the rise in Albuquerque. People who work with victims aren’t sure whether that’s because date rape drugs are being used more often or people are more aware of them.

Gail Starr is the clinical coordinator for SANE, a collaborative of medical professionals that helps victims of sexual assault. She said a variety of substances—including designer drugs—are being used these days. “There are so many drugs that we as nurses, we’re not focused on exactly what drug. The law enforcement can worry about that,” she said.

Laura Tenorio

Young scientists from Taos High School won the top prize at eCYBERMISSION, a national army-sponsored contest that asks students to come up with real-world solutions to problems in their communities. 

Ninth-graders in Taos figured out how to create inexpensive filters to remove antibiotics from drinking water. On Friday, June 20, they won $20,000 for their efforts, plus an additional $5,000 grant for the next phase of their work—implementation.

PunchingJudy via Creative Commons

  New Mexico has the second-highest rate of overdose deaths in the country, according to the CDC. Now, a life-saving drug called naloxone is not only available by prescription, the cost of it is covered through Medicaid.

Laura Tenoria

Taos High School students are pitching a water-cleaning project in a national science competition called eCYBERMISSION this week in D.C. The prize? $25,000 and the chance to help the U.S. get antibiotics out of its water supply.

Students at Taos High have figured out how use crushed blue crab shells to create filters that remove antibiotics from water. They used the crustacean shells to create Chitosan, which is commonly used in agriculture, medicine and industry. 

Art by Nani Chacon courtesy of Young Women United

A local advocacy organization is looking at reforming the way the judicial system treats women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Young Women United traveled to Santa Fe last week to make four recommendations to the Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee. Among them, judges should acknowledge pregnancy and lactation status when determining the conditions of bond or release.


Nataura Powdrell remembers one inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center who refused to take his meds. When the jail’s mental health staff tried to talk about it, he explained he didn’t want to become stable. Because then he’d be released from jail.

Then, he knew from experience, he would run through the 30-day supply of medication that the jail provides to exiting inmates. He would have a psychotic break. And he’d go find heroin so he could get comfortable with the voices in his head.

Courtesy of Matthew Coyte

Jan Green isn’t sure of cell 135C’s exact dimensions at the Valencia County Detention Center. It was small.

“It was a shower stall, but I couldn’t use the shower,” she said. “It had the steel toilet and sink combination. It had a cement L-shaped bench and two drains. It had a steel door with a window that looked out into the walkway. “

She saw those objects every day all day during her months-long stints in solitary.

DOJ Promises Change

Apr 28, 2014
Marisa Demarco

  The Department of Justice held the first of three meetings Monday aiming to gather community input on Albuquerque’s police force.

People who showed up at the Westside’s Alamosa Community Center to give input last night were put off by the format of the meeting. It was not a public forum. Instead, commenters were given a number and then taken into a room where they spoke to DOJ employees as part of five-person focus groups.

Screenshot from "Orange is the New Black"

The hole. That’s what they call it on television. It’s the mind-shattering pit fictional prisoners will do anything to avoid.

In real life, human rights advocates say New Mexico needs to cut back on using solitary confinement as a punishment method—especially for people coping with mental illnesses. Prison officials agree that it should be used less often, though most take issue with the way it’s portrayed in prison dramas.

spacepleb: Compfight via cc

  Three members of Albuquerque’s Police Oversight Commission resigned yesterday, saying the commission lacks the ability to provide real oversight of the city’s police force.

Wikimedia Commons

The Police Oversight Commission met yesterday afternoon just hours after the Department of Justice released its findings on Albuquerque’s police force.

Chair *Jeffrey Peterson opened the regularly scheduled meeting with a statement about why the Police Oversight Commission has avoided commenting publicly on Albuquerque Police Department issues. He said the volunteer committee’s members have to skirt the appearance of bias.

my_southborough via Creative Commons

Bernalillo County jail Chief Ramon Rustin’s resignation took effect Monday. After three years as the head of the largest jail in New Mexico, Rustin stepped down saying he needed to meet family obligations. 

KUNM spoke with Rustin in February about mental health care at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

  Jail staff says MDC is the largest mental health provider in the state. Chief Rustin agreed. In fact, Rustin put that as No. 2 on the list of problems at the Bernalillo County lockup. So what's No. 1? Overcrowding, he said.

kla4067 vis Wikimedia Commons and CC

Independent Review Officer Robin Hammer criticizes the city's Police Oversight Commission for failing to examine APD's overall policy on the use of force.

"The current commissioners have chosen not to use some of the powers they’ve already been given," she said in an interview with KUNM. "At no point in my 18 months has the Police Oversight Commission chosen to look at officer-involved shootings and to review what’s gone on."

Marisa Demarco

  Around 150 people gathered at the Center for Peace and Justice to create a list of demands on Monday night.

A block or so away, a couple dozen protesters gathered in front of the University of New Mexico Bookstore to continue to chant and call for reform of Albuquerque’s Police Department.

The center was wall-to-wall with activists from many backgrounds and organizations. Though opinions varied widely, the group eventually narrowed a list of 30-plus demands to three. They include:

• Release video of all shootings, including lapel and helmet camera footage

Mayor Richard Berry and APD Chief Gordon Eden addressed the media this afternoon regarding yesterday's protest, which the mayor earlier characterized as "mayhem." At today's news conference, Berry reiterated that what happened was not productive and said demonstrators were attempting to escalate the situation. 

Gordon described it this way: "What was a peaceful protest turned into this mob state. They were stopping traffic and engaging people who were doing nothing more than trying to get from point A to point B." 

A still from the Daily Lobo's weekly news broadcast show "The Howl," directed by Michael Warren.

UNM's student newspaper, the Daily Lobo, offered a special video report of yesterday's 12-hour protest of the Albuquerque Police Department. The newspaper creates a news broadcast show weekly called "The Howl," which is directed by Michael Warren. Scope the paper's coverage


  The deadline to sign up for health care is Monday, March 31, and New Mexico lags behind just about every other state in the country in terms of enrollment.

Phil Schiliro is the adviser to President Obama on the Affordable Care Act. He moved his family to Santa Fe in 2012 and said enrollment is critical in New Mexico.

A study completed in 2012 showed more than 400,000 New Mexicans don’t have health insurance. Only about 15,000 have signed up on the exchange.

Rita Daniels

Someone has posted a YouTube video claiming to represent the hacker group Anonymous and promising to launch an assault on the Albuquerque Police Department's websites. 

As a Downtown protest against APD’s use of deadly force concluded Tuesday night, officers opened fire on a man on the Westside. He died Wednesday morning. 

lanl.gov via Public Domain

  The National Cancer Institute will come to New Mexico this spring to investigate how much radiation people were exposed to after the Trinity test in the southern part of the state nearly 70 years ago.

The CDC studied health hazards in the New Mexico and said state residents consumed radiation via water, milk, meat and produce grown here after July 16, 1945, when the U.S. Army detonated a nuclear weapon for the first time.

ENERGY.GOV via Wikimedia Commons / public domain

The director of an organization that evaluated the WIPP site for over 25 years said officials aren’t doing enough to inform New Mexicans.

Dr. Bob Neill led the Environmental Evaluation Group, which provided independent technical evaluations of the WIPP project for more than two decades. He retired a year after the plant opened in 1999, and the group disbanded in 2004.

Nicolas Raymond via CC

03/20/14 Update: Nuclear Waste From New Mexico Lab May Go To Texas - The Associated Press

The operator of the nation's troubled nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico wants to temporarily store waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory in rural West Texas until it reopens.

Waste storage at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad is halted because of a Feb. 5 truck fire and a Feb. 14 radiation leak that contaminated 17 workers.

Douglas Muth via Creative Commons


Excessive drinking is among the leading causes of preventable deaths in the U.S., according to a report just released by the CDC.

Of the 11 states studied, New Mexico had the highest death rate due to alcohol use. For every 100,000 residents, there are about 51 deaths related to excessive drinking, which is almost double the median rate.

The report also tallied up all the years of potential life lost. In New Mexico, that’s a little more than 30 thousand years annually.