Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center

Shaun Griswold

Joining national protests against racist police violence, hundreds of people in Albuquerque participated in a Black Lives Matter car rally Thursday evening, May 28. Near the end of the rally, the Albuquerque Police Department deployed their riot teams, with military-grade equipment, and took into custody four teenagers of color after gunshots were fired nearby. They were not charged and were later released. Their detainment sparked a police altercation with demonstrators. The escalated police response to unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters stands in contrast to the lack of visible police presence at an anti-shutdown demonstration that included armed white protesters on Civic Plaza last month.

Yasmin Khan / KUNM

 

UPDATED Tuesday, April 6, 1p: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an order on Monday, April 6, directing the New Mexico Corrections Department to compile a list of inmates eligible for early release, in order to reduce incarcerated populations and slow the spread of coronavirus. To be eligible for release, prisoners must have a parole plan and a release date less than 30 days away, and they cannot be serving time for domestic abuse, sex offenses or felony DWI.

The order comes days after dozens of people organized COVID-safe car rallies Friday in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, calling on the governor and sheriff’s departments to release people from prisons, jails and ICE detention centers.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 3/27, 8a: The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply shaken many of our basic systems in just a few weeks. Changes that once seemed unthinkable to many, like releasing prisoners, closing entire school districts, or disallowing evictions, have now come to pass. How are people and institutions adapting to provide necessities during this crisis? What might a post-coronavirus world look like? We want to hear from you. Email LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live during the show at (505) 277-5866. 

courtesy of GBCS

 

UPDATE 1/31 2p: Peña-Hanson says she is no longer supporting both bills and that Gordon Bernell Charter School will focus only on HB 152.

New Mexico lawmakers are considering setting aside $6 million dollars in the higher education budget for some charter schools that educate adults. Last year, legislators changed the K-12 funding formula so public schools can no longer get money for students who are over 21. 

InmateAid.com

Young people who have been arrested in New Mexico often have to wait for weeks or months before a judge hears their case. But the number of juvenile detention facilities has shrunk by about half since 2015, so more youth are being detained far from home. County officials say that’s a strain on the criminal justice system and it puts young people at risk.

Wikimedia via CC

Only a small handful of lockups around the country let new moms who are behind bars breastfeed their infants. But the Bernalillo County jail—the biggest in the state—rolled out a policy that allows female inmates to feed their babies, or to pump milk for them.

Were Jail Inmates Victims Of Excessive Force?

Jul 27, 2016
insunlight via Flickr / Creative Commons License

There’s been a lot of focus lately both locally and nationally on how police officers use force—sometimes deadly force—against people.

Now, New Mexico’s largest jail is back in the headlines after it was revealed that two inmates may have been the victims of excessive use of force.

insunlight via Flickr / Creative Commons License

  

For hundreds of people in New Mexico, getting out of jail or prison hinges on whether there’s a bed in a halfway house, a slot in a treatment program or space in a mental health facility. Until a spot opens up, they remain behind bars, and it costs taxpayers thousands of extra dollars while they wait.

Daniel Schwen / CC-BY-SA 4.0 / Creative Commons

The Legislature’s Criminal Justice Reform Committee met on Wednesday to talk about bail, among other topics. According to one speaker, the high cost of bail creates a system where people who can pay are released, while people in poverty remain behind bars. 

Arthur Pepin has a lot of work in front of him. He’s the director of the Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Review Commission, a group tasked with figuring out how to decrease the population at the county jail.

e-MagineArt.com

Nataura Powdrell remembers one inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center who refused to take his meds. When the jail’s mental health staff tried to talk about it, he explained he didn’t want to become stable. Because then he’d be released from jail.

Then, he knew from experience, he would run through the 30-day supply of medication that the jail provides to exiting inmates. He would have a psychotic break. And he’d go find heroin so he could get comfortable with the voices in his head.

Screenshot from "Orange is the New Black"

The hole. That’s what they call it on television. It’s the mind-shattering pit fictional prisoners will do anything to avoid.

In real life, human rights advocates say New Mexico needs to cut back on using solitary confinement as a punishment method—especially for people coping with mental illnesses. Prison officials agree that it should be used less often, though most take issue with the way it’s portrayed in prison dramas.