Jail administrator pledges more changes

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Two officers are gone and Curry County Jail Administrator Lois Bean is promising more change at the detention center.

The firings were disclosed Tuesday during Bean’s detailed report to county commissioners on the heels of the erroneous release of an inmate last week.

“One officer has been terminated for their involvement in the (mistaken release),” Bean said.

The other was terminated for the escape of an inmate Aug. 8, Bean disclosed during a telephone interview with the Clovis News Journal following the meeting.

Bean noted she put checks and balances in place shortly after taking command last December, but, “That’s not working.”

Bean said she is re-evaluating policies for new ways to prevent future repeat incidents.

Bean said current policy states a supervisor must approve all releases. She said it wasn’t done in the case of John “ToyToy” Garcia, a State Department of Corrections parolee who was released Aug. 8.

Garcia, 33, turned himself in to his parole officer three days later after his girlfriend convinced him to surrender.

The day after Garcia’s release, inmate Bobby Owen escaped from custody while being transported from the emergency room back to the jail.

The 25-year-old burglary suspect was captured about nine hours later.

Commissioner Caleb Chandler pressed Bean, asking questions about issues such as classification of inmates, a newly installed camera system, training and staffing numbers.

“I’m glad your report was so detailed,” Chandler told Bean, adding, “I think that the time for public accountability is now.”

Bean said she wanted to make sure her report was detailed so the public and commission would know steps were being taken to address issues.

She said she has spent long nights at the jail and worked nonstop to try and correct the issues.

“I’ve been there 24 hours a day,” she said.

Bean said she put the policy in place because there had been mistaken releases in the past.

“Before I got here they were releasing inmates erroneously. After I got here and they released one, I put in a system of checks and balances,” she said.

Bean was referring another mistaken release last September of Willie Windom, a 46-year-old inmate waiting to be transported to a Texas prison for a 12-year sentence on drug charges.

His erroneous release was discovered more than a month later, just days before Bean took command of the facility.