Revised jail contracts approved

By Christina Calloway
Senior writer

Roosevelt County commissioners tightened the terms of inmate housing agreements with other counties but failed to take any action at their Tuesday meeting in response to the July 2 escape of an inmate during work detail, the county’s sixth escapee in about a year.

Commissioners said they planned to address the escape of Eddy County murder suspect Senovio Mendoza Jr., which left one county employee injured, when they were able to meet. Tuesday they said no action was taken because the investigation is still open.

Roosevelt County Commission Chairman Kendell Buzard said given the evidence provided so far, Eddy County did not disclose Mendoza, 32, was a murder suspect prior to being sent to Roosevelt County’s jail in March.

Eddy County Interim Warden Mike Ingram has said he’s supplied the correct documentation for Eddy County inmates sent to the Roosevelt County Detention Center, but following the escape, Mendoza and 26 other Eddy County inmates who were housed at the RCDC were sent back.

Buzard said Roosevelt County will refrain from contracting with Eddy County for the purpose of housing inmates until “they clear up what went wrong and why information didn’t get to us.”
“A person like that shouldn’t be coming to a detention facility,” Buzard said of Mendoza.

Commissioners declined to say if any disciplinary actions were taken against RCDC Administrator David Casanova, citing personnel issues.
When asked further questions about the escape or the county’s future actions in addressing the issue, County Manager Charlene Webb said she was “done with this” and directed questions to the commission.
Casanova has admitted responsibility for the recent escape and has also cast blame on Eddy County officials for being dishonest with the information provided.

In attempts to eliminate chances for a related escape scenario, Casanova presented new housing agreements shared with several New Mexico counties that clarifies the requirements counties supplying inmates need to meet. The commission approved four inmate confinement contracts.
“They have to meet certain criteria before we take them,” Buzard said. “We tightened up the terms.”

Here are a few highlights of changes and new language in the contract with Guadalupe County:
• When submitting any inmate to Roosevelt County, Guadalupe County will provide the RCDC a 24-hour notice of its intent to deliver inmates.
• Documentation necessary for booking inmates includes: Arrest warrant and supporting affidavit, arrest report, judgment and sentence, release order, age, criminal complaint or other charging documentation, all medical records, and any prior and current institutional history.
• The RCDC administrator has the right to refuse the housing of any contractor inmate.
The RCDC will not accept any inmate :
• Awaiting transport to New Mexico Department of Corrections.
• With a current federal or out of state detainer.
• Charged with a capital felony, such as premeditated murder.
• Charged with a first degree felony including murder, criminal sexual penetration of a minor and other serious sexual crimes, kidnapping and armed robbery.
• Charged with or has been charged with a second degree murder.
• With history of escape.