Outage leads to prisoner transfer

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A power failure at the Socorro County Detention Center Tuesday evening resulted in the transfer of 53 prisoners to alternate facilities. Detention Center Director Evangel Maldonado said the jail went dark at about 7 p.m. and immediately contacted Socorro Electric Co-op and Socorro Fire Department.

John Larson - El Defensor Chieftain: Socorro Electric Co-op linemen repaired power lines to the Socorro County Detention Center early Wednesday morning.

SEC Journeyman James Chavez said his crew shut down the power to facility as soon as they arrived.

“Wires shorted out at the breaker panels,” Chavez said. “There was sparking inside the boxes and it was contained in a matter of about five minutes.”

The breaker panel is located in an enclosed area outside the building, and there was no other damage.

Maldonado said the transfer involved coordination with Secretary of Corrections Gregg Marcantel, Warden Robert Stewart of the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas, as well as the Cibola County Detention Center in Grants.

A Correctional Emergency Response Team from Los Lunas handled the prisoner transfer.

“The team from the prison did a good job. Very professional,” Maldonado said. “They had great control and had no problems with the prisoners.”

The team took 40 male prisoners by bus to Los Lunas and 13 female prisoners to Grants.

Maldonado said the inmate population took the blackout well, “but after a short while a couple of prisoners started running the faucets so we had to turn off the water.”

Assisting Maldonado with security were Philip Montoya, Les Torres and William Armijo from the Sheriff’s Department.

Maldonado could not be specific on when he expects the detention center to return to normal and prisoners can be returned.

“Right now we’re still working off a generator,” he said Wednesday morning. “It may be two or three days. We don’t know at this time.”