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

Request to transfer jail inmate denied

 


CLOVIS — A judge Thursday denied the state’s request to transfer to prison a local jail inmate whose monthly medical costs are almost as much as the Curry County medication budget for all its inmates in a year.

Medication for Timothy Williams, 21, is costing the county $43,484.70 per month, whereas the county averages $50,000 to $60,000 annually for medication for adult and juvenile detainees yearly, County Manager Lance Pyle told The News.

Assistant District Attorney Arwen Gaddis told Judge Fred Van Soelen that Williams’ “specific mental health and physical needs ... are essentially creating a drain” and that it would be “in his best interest as well as the community’s” for him to be transferred to the Department of Corrections for the remainder of his sentence, through mid-September.

Williams had pleaded no contest in 2016 to felony charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and entered an amended plea agreement in April this year, according to court records.

Officials were aware Williams had health issues at the time but did not anticipate how costly they would be, Gaddis told the judge.

Jail staff told Van Soelen in the hearing that Williams, who was assisted in court by a sign language interpreter, required special attention and resources for a lung disease, diabetes and security issues with other inmates.

Those costs were previously covered by Medicaid but that coverage ended when Williams became incarcerated, they said.

Williams’ defense attorney Jeremiah Hall said the issue was essentially “moot” given the limited time remaining on the sentence. He proposed instead that Williams’ remaining time be dismissed or that he be released early on an ankle monitor program.

Van Soelen said Williams could apply for that program, and that he doesn’t have the authority to send him to the Department of Corrections. The plea agreement reached months ago was clear that Williams would serve his remaining time locally, and Van Soelen said he wasn’t going to scrap that agreement.

District Attorney Andrea Reeb told The News that her office “will no longer stipulate to felony county sentences.”

“We are just going to start taking a firm stance in our office that felony sentences all need to go to (Department of Corrections),” she wrote in a text message. “DoC is paid to house them and the county isn’t. I have discussed this issue with all my attorneys and in the future there will be no plea agreements allowing a felon to serve their time in the county.”

Pyle said he did not recall previous cases of a single inmate costing the county so much for medical expenses, but following Thursday’s hearing “we’ll see what we can do to absorb the additional costs.”

 

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