Jail administrator position open for applicants

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

County Manager Lance Pyle said the position of Curry County Adult Detention Center administrator would be opened for applicants Wednesday.

Pyle said he has also appointed Curry County Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Bessette as interim assistant administrator.

Pyle said he decided to post the position because, “it’s in the best interests of the residents of Curry County that the position is posted and that we see what candidates we get for this position… and to make the selection process fair.”

The announcement came one week after the escape of eight inmates from the jail. Four remain at large, including a convicted killer and murder suspect.

Pyle would not comment on the timing of his decision to list the position.

Former administrator Leslie Johnson, who was hired in March 2006, retired from the jail Aug. 16 after a more than a 30-year career.

Audrey Barriga, who served as Johnson’s assistant and has over 11 years corrections experience, was appointed interim administrator and Pyle said previously he would reevaluate the position in September.

The interim appointment of Bessette was a decision made based on the 12-year-law enforcement veteran’s work of the past week at the facility, Pyle said.

Last week, Pyle appointed Bessette to assist with management of the jail in the aftermath of the escape.

“I feel his leadership and investigative experience will continue to be an asset to the county during this transitional period,” Pyle said.