Escapes trouble county

By Alisa Boswell

CMI staff writer

aboswell@pntonline.com

Two jail breaks with inmates using almost the same techniques to break through the roof earlier this year bring stepped up security at the Roosevelt County Detention Center in 2013.

The jail will be receiving a new $57,000 roof from cash accumulated for housing inmates from other counties.

Portales News-Tribune: File photo The hole allegedly torn in the roof by Stephen Phillips and Ruben Lozano at the Roosevelt County Detention Center in June.

Portales News-Tribune: File photo
The hole allegedly torn in the roof by Stephen Phillips and Ruben Lozano at the Roosevelt County Detention Center in June.

For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the RCDC earned $770,000 for housing prisoners from other facilities. Its total operating budget was almost $1.4 million.

Razor wire will be installed along the lining of the roof to prevent a repeat of escapes in June and September in which inmates broke through the ceiling of their cells to gain access to the facility’s roof.

Officials said Stephen Phillips and Ruben Lozano broke out of the jail in June by using the T-shaped side of the bunk bed leg as a handle, which provided leverage, as they thrust upwards to break through an air conditioning vent in their cell and part of the concrete ceiling.

Jail Administrator David Casanova said they used the same technique of punching upwards with the bunk bed leg to break through the roof made up of layers of metal, insulation and a rooftop of tar mixed with gravel.

Phillips, who injured his ankle when jumping off the roof of the jail, went into hiding in Portales resident Jeannie Ornealas’ house.

Ornealas talked the inmate into turning himself in.

Lozano was captured a week later in Midland, Texas, by the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force.

When Abran Baeza, 22, of Portales, Noel Webb, 32, of Tucumcari, and Robert Claudio, 31, of Portales, escaped in September, it was by the same method as the two inmates who escaped in June, according to Casanova.

The two inmates went to the home of Portales resident Amanda Bonilla, 29, whose cousin used to date Baeza.

Bonilla said she had no idea the two men were escaped fugitives until four hours later when the police showed up at her door.

Claudio was captured later in Colorado.

At a Nov. 6 Roosevelt County commission meeting, commissioners approved an order for new jail bunks, which will be bolted into the floor as opposed to the old beds, which were welded into the wall.

The bolted bed legs will prevent the inmates from breaking them off and using them as tools to escape.

Other potential additions that were discussed included purchasing additional video cameras and constructing a gate. The commission stated that additional measures could be added in the future in phases.

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