Q&A: Roosevelt County Detention Center


Last updated 4/4/2020 at 1:07pm

PORTALES — As COVID-19 continues to reshape the world, the world has to adjust to being reshaped.

Social distancing, hoarding, hand sanitizing, sheltering in place have become common. Every aspect of life is impacted.

Jails have had to adapt the same as other institutions, and they are indeed adapting. Large cities such as Los Angeles have released prisoners by the hundreds. And every prison in the country, no matter how large the city or small the town, is trying to be innovative when facing the coronavirus pandemic.

The Roosevelt County Detention Center is no different, and jail Administrator Justin Porter is working to ensure the facility continues to change as the times do.

“Admin Porter is doing positive things at our facility to support and educate our staff and detainees,” Roosevelt County Manager Amber Hamilton wrote in an email.

The following is a Q&A with Porter about how the virus is affecting the Roosevelt County Detention Center and what RCDC is doing about it. His responses are from late Thursday afternoon.

Q: Does the Roosevelt County Detention Center have any known coronavirus cases?

Porter: None known at this time.

Q: What steps has the detention center taken to keep its staff and detainees safe from the virus? Testing? Frequent temperature-taking?

Porter: The facility enhanced cleaning/disinfecting and hygiene practices early in February. Detainees, security staff and contractors are having temperatures checked daily. New intakes are separated from population for a period of time so they can be medically evaluated before coming into contact with general population. Only essential personnel are allowed into the facility, and administration has created additional opportunities for detainees to remain in contact with family and the courts.

Q: How specifically does the detention center deal with social distancing?

Porter: The detention center has been working with the local courts, attorneys and law enforcement agencies for several weeks to reduce the number of detainees that are incarcerated. The detention center has 142 beds for detainee housing and is currently housing around 40 detainees. Having a small daily population allows the facility to spread the detainees throughout the facility further promoting social distancing.

Q: What was the average daily population before the pandemic started?

Porter: To better give an idea of how we got to where we are, I am going to provide you the facility count for the month and the number of intakes for the month:

December: Facility count was 80 and 80 detainees were booked into the facility that month

January: Facility count was 70 and 96 detainees were booked into the facility that month

February: Facility count was 62 and 88 detainees were booked into the facility that month

March: Facility count was 39 and 52 detainees were booked into the facility that month

... (T)he detainees were released by the courts for a variety charges.

Q: Are special seating assignments or perhaps something else used when the detainees are having their meals?

Porter: Detainees are provided meals in their respective dayrooms or cells, there is not a community dining facility.

Q: With non-essential personnel on stay-at-home orders, have bookings into the detention center decreased?

Porter: We have seen a decrease in daily booking over the past few weeks.

Q: As is happening in Clovis as well as in many large cities throughout the country, is the Roosevelt detention center trying to work with judges and attorneys to find ways to release some prisoners?

Porter: The detention center always works closely with the courts and attorneys; however, RCDC’s role is to provide housing. With the courts and attorneys working together, some detainees were authorized to be released. Other agencies are also assessing the detainee population.

— Compiled by Staff Writer Peter Stein


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