Officials split on inmate furloughs

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Area officials are split on whether a system of releasing jail inmates on furloughs is working properly.

District Attorney Matt Chandler said his office stridently and uniformly opposes furloughs unless an inmate’s life literally depends on it.

“We don’t like them. The furloughs are not coming from us…

“We oppose them across the board because the community has been burned too many times by individuals that cannot conduct themselves properly while out on a furlough,” Chandler said.

“The only furlough we consider stipulating to are the furloughs where there’s a great medical need of some kind.”

The issue was disclosed Tuesday at the Curry County Commission meeting after Interim Jail Administrator Carlos Ortiz said during an audit he discovered problems with questionable furloughs and inmates who had not returned from them.

Two weeks ago, a maximum security inmate was released on furlough to be by his girlfriend’s side for the birth of their child. The man returned to the jail without incident, but it was a release with the potential for problems, Ortiz said.

In February, an inmate charged with assault on an officer and felony DWI failed to return from a medical furlough to a Lubbock hospital. Nicky Frklic, 42, remains at large and a warrant has been issued for his arrest, court records show.

Ortiz also said two other inmates listed in the jail’s inmate roster as “AWOL” or absent without leave, never returned from furloughs.

Of seven inmates currently on furlough, four are at court-sanctioned rehabilitation facilities.

The reasons the other three were furloughed are unclear and were not reflected in court records maintained online or at Curry County Magistrate and District Court.

Other than advising the courts about a security or behavior concern, the jail’s only responsibility is to comply with a furlough order and release the inmate, Ortiz said Wednesday.

If the inmate doesn’t return on time, it is then the jail’s responsibility to sound the alert and make sure the courts and law enforcement know —