Santa Fe County Grand Jury Report
on Santa Fe County Retention Center Tour
of Facility on November 17, 2000
During the grand jury tour of the facility and meeting with the warden and the administrative staff we found the following:
• Before any of the grand jury entered the facility, we noted there was not enough parking. This was acknowledged by the warden.
• Senior staff seemed knowledgeable and well acquainted with the facility and its procedures. Staff readily answered most of our questions to our satisfaction.
• With the exceptions noted below, the facility, which was opened in October 1998 appeared to be clean and in good condition.
• With the exceptions noted below, overall security of the facility appeared to be good and there was no evidence of overcrowding.
• With regard to inmate property control and adhering to fire standards, the facility appeared exemplary.
Of Some Concern and Possible Areas of Improvement:
• Regarding security: Several jurors were able to pass through the metal detector with metal objects, such as keys and keys with penknife, jewelry and other purse contents, without these objects being detected.
Regarding medical/dental: It appeared there was inadequate control of medications, including controlled substances, on the portable carts. Too easily accessible by perhaps staff and inmates. Although the rest of the facility appeared quite sanitary, all medical/dental areas the grand jury was shown failed even the most minimum sanitary requirements. No protective gear (i.e. rubber gloves, etc.) was produced even when requested by jurors. In addition to being dirty, the equipment (i.e. X-Rays, dental chairs) appeared very old.
• Regarding intake. "The grand jury was not assured that the intake personnel were adequately trained to assess psychiatric and medical problems, especially since there may be situations where inmates may be held over weekends and holidays without proper evaluation and timely needed medications and counseling. There was a concern that inmates not properly evaluated may not be properly classified and placed in the wrong segment of the inmate population.
• Regarding protection of inmates and staff: The grand jury was not given any information on procedures for safeguarding inmates and staff from assault—i.e. response time to disturbances, etc. We wondered if there were adequate guards, back-up and procedures.
• The grand jury was very concerned that there was no provision for female work release. This would limit the judge’s options in sentencing and seems discriminatory and unfair.
• Regarding job training: Although we were told about various programs regarding job training and possible contracts with the Santa Fe Community College, we observed on the activity schedule that only GED, ESL and religious programs were offered.
• Regarding smoking: There was no segregation of smokers from non-smokers and the grand jury observed a great many of the inmates smoking. Since secondhand smoke has been shown to be deleterious to one’s health, the grand jury felt this option should be available to non-smokers if possible.
• Regarding food service area: Although they weren’t cooking at the time the grand jury observed the food service area, the stove was very dirty.
• Regarding exercise: There appeared to be no adequate protection from inclement weather in the outdoor exercise areas and even though cold, we observed several inmates outside with no jackets or warm clothing.
Some Possible Suggestions:
• As soon as possible, offer training to inmates on areas such as how to prepare a resume, conduct a job interview, run a cash register, how to count change, type, or some shop skills. It is possible this may reduce recidivism.
• Since inmates are in for an average of 2 months, offer anger management classes to those inmates who commit violent crimes.
• Increase books in the library, in both English and Spanish, for pleasure reading. The grand jury only observed law books. Books on tape or taped educational materials also could be used. Have some basic art materials available.
• The grand jury noticed completely bare walls. Perhaps some anti-smoking, anti-STD/AIDS, anti teen pregnancy information posters would be appropriate.
Submitted By: Noted by:
Ann MacKinnon, Foreperson Michael E. Vigil
Date 11/30/2000 Chief Judge