Commissioners discuss overcrowded jails

Tony Parra

The ongoing issue with overcrowding at the Roosevelt County Detention Center took precedence in Tuesday’s Roosevelt County Commission meeting.
The commissioners viewed a four-minute presentation from General Marine Leasing on the portable inmate facilities which could be used for the RCDC.
In November, Luera said the number of inmates was fluctuating from 11 to 16 inmates over capacity for the RCDC, a 59-bed facility. Luera said there are 18 RCDC inmates currently housed in the Dickens County Detention Center.
The presentation displayed a portable facility with two 30-man dormitories on each side of a room used by corrections officers to view the inmates through large glass windows. The bunk beds in the portable facilities in the powerpoint presentation were made out of wood.
“We’ll need heat carts and we can use the kitchen we have (for the temporary facility),” RCDC Administrator Jesse Luera said. “The bunk beds will need to be made out of metal and the picnic tables will need to be made out of metal and secure to the floor. Even for low-risk inmates, we’ll still need these things in place.”
Commissioners said they were interested in the possibilities of a temporary facility attached to the Roosevelt County Detention Center. Commissioners hope to see one in use during their visit.
“Officials from Luna County traveled to New Orleans to visit the facilities,” Roosevelt County Administrator Charlene Hardin said. “They were very impressed with the operation.”
Hardin will be working with the commissioners on setting up a time to visit a temporary facility in the New Orleans area.
“The only drawback I see is that these units might not be immediately available,” Commissioner Tom Clark said.
Commissioner Paul Grider said if General Marine Leasing does have the units available, they can shipped to Roosevelt County and attached within a month.
In other business:
• Commissioner Dennis Lopez updated Roosevelt County officials on the status of the repairs of railroad crossings. He said repair on the railroad crossing on North Main Street is projected to be completed by June. He said this is phase one of the repair work. According to Lopez, the county may need to come up with $60,000 to match the city’s part in the cost of repair.
Commissioners decided to investigate what kind of involvement the railroad company, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), should have in the cost. Roosevelt County Attorney Randy Knudson will look into the legality issues for the repair.
• The Roosevelt County Commissioners approved $79,168.57 in funding for indigent care and disapproved three claims totaling $2,321.66 under the recommendation of Indigent Hospital Claims Administrator Vicki Aguilar. The Roosevelt County Commissioners and Aguilar declined the claims because each of the claimants had sufficient money in their savings account to pay for the hospital bills.