By WIlliam P. Thompson
Portales attorney Nettie Griffin said she understands why Roosevelt County Detention Center officials monitor phone calls placed by inmates.
She said she assumes inmates’ calls to their attorneys are not monitored, but tells her jailed clients to be careful anyway.
“I absolutely feel confident that the detention center authorities are not taping me,” Griffin said, “and I expect them to fulfill their obligation not to tape me, but I never ask my clients questions (over the phone at the jail) that would lead them to admissions (of guilt).
Griffin said she would counsel a newly jailed and talkative inmate to remain silent until she could meet in person with the inmate. She said she is even more confident conversations with her clients inside the detention center are not monitored by police or jail officials.
Three people were arrested last week in a plot to bring marijuana and other jail contraband into the Curry County Adult Center, including a detention center officer. A call between inmate Byron Logan and his wife, Yvonne Logan, led to the arrest, according to court documents. Also arrested was detention center guard Damien Pardue.
Jesse Luera, administrator of the Roosevelt County Detention Center, said phone calls between inmates and attorneys are not monitored, but other inmate calls are subject to be monitored.
“They (the inmates) all know that the phone calls are recorded,” Luera said, “and there is no privacy. There is a recording (at the beginning of the call) heard by both parties that states that the call is subject to being monitored or recorded.”
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler said law enforcement monitoring of jail phone calls has been helpful.
“It is a very helpful tool used to prevent future acts of crime,” Chandler said. “There have been many, many times when an individual gets booked, and the first few phone calls made are to people on the outside to cover up their crimes.”
Chandler said if attorney-client calls are accidentally recorded, officials know that it is taboo to review those calls.
Ruidoso attorney Tim Rose said he doesn’t like inmate calls being monitored.
“I don’t think people who are incarcerated should be at the mercy of a detention center. They should be able to express their feelings openly, without worrying the government is listening,” Rose said.
Luera said inmates have free access to phones in the jail’s day room at certain hours of the day. He said all outgoing calls are collect calls.
Freedom Newspapers writer Marlena Hartz contributed to the story.