County exploring home-monitoring system for nonviolent inmates

By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer

The Curry County Commission on Wednesday approved a proposed policy to monitor nonviolent inmates outside detention center walls.

The Community Custody Program would use a 24-hour electronic monitoring system attached to the ankle to track inmates activities in their home and around the community.

The Commission unanimously approved the proposed policy aimed at reducing an overcrowding problem that has drained county funds. The policy has been sent to six judges in district, magistrate and municipal courts where approval is expected.

A hired company will administer the program. County officials will solicit bids in upcoming weeks. County Attorney Steve Doerr said the program could be operational as early as May.

According to the proposal, inmates will be charged one-time fees totaling $30 and a $10 per week monitoring fee as well as fees for random urinalysis and breath tests.

“It is designed with the idea that it pays for itself,” Doerr said.
At least 20 and perhaps as many as 75 of the more than 300 current inmates would be eligible for this program, Doerr said.

According to the policy, inmates convicted of a violent offense, jail escape or serving a mandatory sentence will not be considered for the program.

Participants may continue employment, attend classes, therapy, community service and maintain family life while serving their sentence, according to the policy.

The program uses a tracking transmitter worn by the inmate linked to home telephone. The equipment is designed to be virtually impossible to remove without detection, according to the policy.

Inmates who violate the program’s terms would be returned to the detention center.

But Doerr said while there are several benefits to the program the county will undertake risks such as mistakenly letting repeat offenders or potentially dangerous first-time offenders into the community.

“If you don’t have the proper identification, can you make a mistake? Yes,” Doerr said.

Commissioners can make adjustments to the policy before voting on the resolution in future meetings.

In other business:

• The final $400,000 in funding has been secured for a railroad overpass west of Clovis, said Curry County Purchasing Officer Twila Rutter-Wooley.

The State Department of Transportation awarded Curry County the final funding needed to begin the $3 million project on N.M. 467 about 2 miles west of Clovis near Cannon Air Force Base.

Rutter-Wooley said it has not been determined who will begin work on the project’s design phase.

• The Commission voted unanimously to award a $28,000 bid to Bee Equipment for a 1993 Ford water truck for use at the county fair grounds.

The county has about $10,000 set aside for the purchase. The remaining $18,000 will come from a three-year loan negotiated with the New Mexico Finance Authority.