Commissioner wants answers after jail escape investigation complete

By Christina Calloway

Senior Writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

Roosevelt County Commissioner Jake Lopez is curious as to how Senovio Mendoza Jr., 32, was even an inmate at the county’s jail, let alone how he had access to a weapon officials said he used to assault a county employee and escape the jail’s custody last week.

But Lopez said he’s waiting an investigation by county officials to conclude before he and his fellow commissioners take any action.

“It was a real bad thing that happened. People just don’t expect that thing to happen but you don’t expect them to send you a real bad criminal either,” said Lopez, referring to officials in Eddy County.

“This is a very serious thing, it’s not something you can let go through.”

Mendoza’s escape prompted county officials to review all their contracts with other counties, return 26 Eddy County inmates late last week, and put a halt to all the work detail programs for inmates.

Roosevelt County Manager Charlene Webb said the programs are under review now.

She declined to say whether any action has been taken against jail administrator David Casanova or other employees, citing personnel matters.

“I admitted we should’ve done a better job,” Webb said. “We are revising all of our inmate housing agreements.”