Letter to the editor: New judicial complex necessity

New judicial complex necessity

A special bond issue will be on November’s ballot. As one part of that issue, Curry County citizens shall decide whether the gross receipts tax will be increased to fortify the existing detention center and increase bed space, including additional beds for maximum-security detainees.

Curry County Adult Detention Center was built in 1992 with a design capacity of 208 detainees. Today, the detention center has the responsibility for an average of 303 inmates each day; about 60 are housed in other counties because our facility cannot accommodate them. Since 2003, Curry County has had to spend $5,312,098 — $664,000 per year — to house prisoners out of the county. The additional transportation and out-of-county medical care add to those costs.

The detention center has only eight isolation cells, not nearly enough for the high-risk inmates or those who need to be confined for illness. Because of overcrowding, we are forced to house low-level inmates in other counties, creating a concentration of more violent offenders in this jail, which is not equipped properly for them.

The detention center was not designed with the security needed to house prisoners beyond the minimum-security level. Design flaws, with the large volume of prisoners, make it harder for detention officers to provide security.

Simply speaking, present conditions at CCADC are a potential threat to public safety. This is evident by the escapes in 2008 and a following attempted escape in which four inmates broke through walls of the detention center.

To ensure public safety, I encourage Curry County citizens to become educated on both Question 1, regarding the courthouse — which would include a tunnel so inmates could be securely transported for hearings and trials — and Question 2, the detention center expansion and improvements.