A screenshot from a February 2019 Bernalillo County recruitment advertisement.
It all comes down to the jails. So many of the problems that plague this state land there. Less than a year after former Gov. Susana Martinez knocked out the state’s behavioral health care system, exiting jail Chief Ramon Rustin confirmed what staff members told me in interviews: The Metropolitan Detention Center in Bernalillo County was, in reality, also the largest mental health care provider in the state. But he put that problem only second on the list. The first: overcrowding.
Today, some of that crowding has cleared up if you’re looking at the raw numbers. But when it’s so understaffed, what’s the difference? On top of fears of viral spread, people inside are struggling through poor medical and psychiatric care, constitutional violations, lockdowns and inhumane conditions, according to former employees, attorneys, court-appointed experts and court documents.
Plus, in early January, there was a cyberattack that knocked out the jail’s systems. Source New Mexico Reporter Austin Fisher has been breaking these stories. And as he does, more and more people contact him to share their experiences of working there as guards, nurses or administrative staff. Or, people are reaching out to describe what it’s like in there as an inmate. If you want to talk to Austin, reach out: [email protected].
All people who are incarcerated are still owed basic human rights. And the people who are in jail may only be awaiting their day in court — they haven’t necessarily been convicted of anything yet.
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