Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Jails in a Jam.

Byline: Stories by Mike Gallagher Journal Investigative Reporter

Paying for Time

Some of New Mexico's jails are very dangerous places. Rapes and beatings are all too common; murder isn't unheard of. Inmates and guards alike are at risk. So is the public, because the chance of escape is relatively high.

The price of incarcerating thousands of people in local jails is also high. Inmates and guards pay in blood; the public pays in tax dollars.

Find out why in a four-part series beginning today on New Mexico jails: Paying for Time.

Counties are caught between a rock and a hard place:more inmates to detain and more difficulty getting funds to do it

If you want to make a case that New Mexico jails are in trouble, take a look around the state. Exhibit A: A female inmate at the San Juan County jail is ordered into solitary confinement by a guard who later forces her to have sex. She files a lawsuit, and three corrections officers are indicted.

Exhibit B: A Taos County jail inmate facing a murder charge walks away from a work detail wearing civilian clothes. He is later charged with murdering a Taos artist while on the loose.

Exhibit C: Six Bernalillo County inmates escape from the temporary West Side jail while a guard reads a book instead of making his rounds. The breakout isn't discovered until a sheriff's deputy finds one of the escapees walking along a deserted road.

Exhibit D: A female inmate in the Dona Ana County jail tries to commit suicide. Using blood dripping from her wrists, she writes the names of guards she claims sexually assaulted her. She survives. The guards are indicted, and she files a lawsuit.

Exhibit E: A Bernalillo County jail inmate is slain in his cell in what authorities describe as a gang hit. It is 20 hours before guards realize he is dead even though they had reported everything normal on several occasions during that time.

Exhibit F: Inmates riot at the Rio Arriba County jail. They injure guards and cause $600,000 worth of damage. The jail is partially closed in the wake of the uprising.

Exhibit G: A Taos County jail inmate with a history of epilepsy dies under questionable circumstances after a scuffle with a guard. …

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