County discusses system used to monitor inmates at home

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

Two incarceration alternatives designed to lessen jail overcrowding were presented to the Curry County Commissioners during Tuesday’s meeting.

Audrey Barriga, assistant detention administrator, addressed the commissioners regarding jail electronic home monitoring and pre-trial release. Barriga said the programs would save the county money by reducing the number of inmates housed at the Curry County Detention Center and other contract facilities.

Electronic home detention allows non-violent offenders to remain in the community while being monitored by the courts, according to Barriga. The program allows offenders to work, attend school or take care of their families.

The county entered into an electronic home detention contract with Sure Trac in May 2005, according to Curry County Finance Director Mark Lansford. An option to renew the contract will become available in 10 days. Barriga urged the commissioners to discontinue the contract and allow the detention center to implement an electronic home detention program.

Curry County Manager Dick Smith said he plans to recommend allowing the detention center administration to take over the program because he believes Sure Trac has not met its end of the contract.

“They are not getting the amount of people on the program we (Curry County) expected,” Smith said.

Attempts to reach Sure Trac by phone Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Barriga also proposed implementing a pre-trial release program that would allow non-violent offenders unable to bond out to be released. Current charges against the offender and past incarceration behavior would be considered before placing an inmate in the program. The assistant administrator said the program would allow jail administrators to more effectively use jail space.

Smith said both issues will be discussed at a future meeting.

Also discussed at the meeting:
• County Clerk Mario Trujillo reminded attendees early voting is currently being held at the courthouse. The primary is scheduled for June 6.

• County Treasurer Rhonda Bookout reported her department has collected 72.5 percent of the property taxes due to Curry County.

• The commissioners unanimously voted to maintain the fireworks sales ban after reviewing precipitation data that showed Curry County as a severe drought area. They will revisit the issue in 30 days as the state mandates.