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

By Algernon DAmmassa
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Representative making effort to end private prisons in NM


Last updated 1/30/2021 at 2:51pm

SANTA FE — Once again, state Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces, is spearheading a legislative effort to end private prisons in New Mexico. Forty-six percent of the state’s inmates are held by for-profit entities, according to a legislative analysis.

The state’s four private prisons are the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa, Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs, Otero County Prison Facility as well as the adjacent immigration processing center in Chaparral, and Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Grants.

Rubio and several cosponsors introduced legislation that would phase out privately managed prisons by allowing current contracts to expire without the opportunity to expand or renew them, and preclude governmental entities or the New Mexico Corrections Department to contract with private entities to operate facilities for detainees or people sentenced to prison.

H.B. 40, or the Private Detention Facility Moratorium Act, received a “do pass” recommendation from the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee on Thursday afternoon on a 3-2 vote divided on party lines — both Republicans on the committee voting no and three Democrats voting in favor.

Corrections Department Secretary Alisha Tafoya Lucero testified against the bill, claiming it would lead to a loss of 3,000 beds, although legislative analysis of the bill reported options including purchasing or leasing privately owned facilities and taking over management.

Depending on what option the state pursued, the fiscal impact report states there would be capital costs on the front end but “long-term operational cost savings are likely.” However, the state would first need to relocate an estimated 2,296 inmates to public facilities.


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