New county jail still in early stages

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Socorro’s Board of County Commissioners wants to know who would support funding for a new jail.

Recently, the board sent out a document detailing preliminary plans for a new jail for Socorro County. Between now and Aug. 23, the board is seeking feedback on its plan to fund this hypothetical detention center.

The planned budget for this project is $6.5 million total. Of this, $1.5 million would come from the county’s general fund. The remainder of $5 million would come from a bond. This bond would have to be approved by voters, and the board wants to know whether or not the general populace would vote in favor of this bond in November.

Right now, the board has a plan to pay off the bond without increasing taxes. An existing mill levy of 1.9 mills would be allocated to paying for the new jail. Previously, the mill levy was being used to remodel the courthouse and the existing jail, according to County Manager Delilah Walsh.

With this plan, it would take about 17 years to pay off the bond, Walsh said.

Currently, Socorro County’s jail holds around 60 people and is in the same complex as the District 7 courthouse and the Sheriff’s Department. Further inmates are sent to other detention facilities around the state, costing the county $52 per day each, said Jail Administrator Evangel Maldonado.

The board cites several other issues that arise from the limited facilities. There is no lobby, no reception area, no on-site medical facilities and no holding yard. Technologically, the jail has problems as well. Doors are key-operated, and the jail was not laid out with security cameras in mind, so there are blind spots.

The preliminary design for a new facility resembles a fairly standard modern jail. The halls are wider, there is a designated wing for visitation and everything is designed for modern technology.

Moreover, the facility has its own medical space, as well as a classroom area. Walsh suggested the space could be used for rehabilitation programs, GED programs and religious studies. Currently, the DWI Compliance Office does some incarceration rehabilitation and jail-based counseling, but this program has a very limited capacity and is held outside of the jail.

This facility would also be further out of town; the proposed location is on Enterprise Road out by N.M. 60. The money saved on housing inmates around the state would come to an estimated total of $350,000, which would be spent on operating costs and maintenance.

To fill out the survey online, go to www.co.socorro.nm.us. For more information on the survey or the project, contact Delilah Walsh at 835-0589.