Commissioner: Jail is the problem

I am concerned about public safety — not only as a Curry County commissioner but as a citizen.

On Nov. 13, Narcizo Soto escaped from Curry County Detention Center. He was captured and the people responsible for his escape have been or are being punished.

Soto has been in our jail for over five months and is still in our jail. We have been told over and over that our jail is not safe to house these kinds of prisoners.

Edward Salas escaped in 2008 and is still at large. He was convicted of firing gunshots into a bedroom window, killing a 10-year-old child in his sleep.

Salas is arguably one of the most dangerous people we have ever housed in this jail, and yet he was held here for over three years.

Since 2002, there have been 14 escapes and each one of them was inexcusable. There is a lot of blame to be shared, and I as a commissioner accept my share, but it isn’t as simple as just locking them up.

We seem to go through a cycle. As long as no one escapes and everything goes well, we seem to be able to put these issues aside until something goes wrong and then the cry goes out to “fire everybody.”

Since 2002, we’ve had three county managers. Jail administrators have come and gone and county commissioners have served their terms and new commissioners have been elected.

And yet, nothing has changed.

Fellow citizens, we are going to have to accept the fact that the jail itself is the problem and until we take the responsibility of building a jail that is large enough and strong enough to protect us, this problem is not going to go away.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

As you read this, Soto is still sitting in our jail and we don’t know how long he’ll be here, as well as other prisoners that I feel should be elsewhere.

I know this is not a very comforting thought.

As a fellow citizen, I urge you to join me in raising our hand and saying “Yes, I want change,” and then reaching into our pocket and accepting the responsibility to pay for that change.

It’s up to you…