De Baca jail may get grant
The De Baca County Jail in Fort Sumner may soon get a $75,000 state grant to make urgently needed repairs on its jail and buy additional equipment for the sheriff’s office, according to County Commission Chairman Powhatan Carter III and Rep. Jose Campos.
Meeting Tuesday afternoon, the commission reviewed Friday’s jailbreak in which an inmate wanted for multiple carjackings and armed robberies escaped for about 10 minutes.
“We just talked about the sheriff going through some new procedures which we needed to work on,” Carter said. “Some of these guys are pretty handy to get out of handcuffs. The doors were locked but it was a bolt lock to keep people from the outside from getting in, not to keep people from getting out.”
Part of the state money will be used for upgrades that should improve security and reduce the potential for escape, according to Sheriff Gary Graves.
“Rep. Campos has assured us that this is the tip of the iceberg, that this is money to get us past the immediate urgency on the issues that are most pressing,” Graves said. “I believe he is a man of his word, and this does assist us to get us where we need to be.”
Campos said his desire to improve the De Baca County Jail went back to an earlier walking tour in which he saw the jail conditions firsthand.
“I was just appalled and I was willing to do whatever I could to help them out,” Campos said. “It’s something that needs to be dealt with right away and I was hoping to keep them from getting sued in the near future.
“It’s a critical issue and one of the problems is the county is broke and has been broke for a long while,” Campos said. “Basically it is a loan to get things done in an emergency situation, but during the legislative session I would be working to help them pay it off via a capital outlay.”
Campos said state aid in urgent situations is not unusual since the state requires counties to provide certain services such as jails, but some counties may not have the financial resources to do what is required.
While appreciative of the state aid, Graves said the best long-term solution may lie elsewhere.
“(Curry County) Sheriff Roger Hatcher has brought up the idea of a community jail in Melrose and that may be a very viable answer to the issues that are coming up in Guadalupe, De Baca, and Curry counties, and get us all a state-of-the-art facility,” Graves said.