The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By David Stevens
Editor 

'Certified' jail feels a little safer

 

November 12, 2017



Congratulations are in order.

After enduring one mess followed by another and another for years, the Curry County Adult Detention Center has attained “certified” status.

That’s government talk meaning it’s adhering to standards set by someone who should know how a jail should be operated.

The Adult Detention Professional Standards Council of the New Mexico Association of Counties approved the jail for its Certificate of Accreditation last week.

Officials said they had to meet 208 standards to receive the recognition. Our jail is just the eighth of 28 detention facilities in New Mexico so designated.

County Manager Lance Pyle said last week the next big challenge will be maintaining the certification, which is one reason he insists the county must go ahead with an $11 million jail renovation project, a process still in the planning stages.

There is no need to revive the debate about whether the jail renovations are really necessary — that train left the station years ago and you can’t stop a runaway government train. Voters tried. And tried. And tried.

Despite three failed bond elections, Curry County found a way around the taxpayers’ wishes, raised taxes anyway and that jail expansion is going to happen.

Sorry. I almost forgot. There is no need to revive that debate.

But this is a good time to point out something that should be obvious to most people who don’t work in government.

The Curry County jail used to be a sick, scary joke — 16 inmates escaped between 2002 and 2013, fights broke out all the time, employees were afraid to be there and many didn’t stay long enough to be properly trained. Now, thanks largely to the leadership of Administrator Mark Gallegos who arrived in January 2016, it is a facility that has been recognized by the state for meeting security, mental health and multiple other state standards.

The transition happened before the million-dollar renovations county commissioners told us were essential have even begun.

And so congratulations are in order, to:

• Gallegos

• the current crop of county commissioners who were mostly not part of the jail’s troubled history

• Pyle, who hired Gallegos and often fought with micromanaging former commissioners over issues at the jail

• jail staff that all of the above have finally put together who actually watch the inmates and follow security guidelines.

As for that $11 million expansion, Pyle said it will make everyone’s job easier, and it will make our jail safer — for inmates, employees, and the rest of us.

That sounds logical. And it better.

We all understand jails will always have problems, maybe even escapes on occasion, but it’s nice to not worry about jumpsuited inmates climbing out the roof and running into our community on any given night.

David Stevens is editor for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: dstevens@thenews.email

 

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