Concerns about inmate furloughs addressed

CNJ staff

Interim Administrator Carlos Ortiz says the Curry County jail is fully staffed and he is addressing several serious issues recently discovered with furloughs.

Ortiz’ disclosures were part of a presentation Tuesday to county commissioners.

It is the first time in years the jail has had all positions filled, Ortiz told commissioners.

Ortiz said he has implemented an academy program with training classes every two weeks so his 40 detention officers can continue advanced training.

Ortiz said he has also been conducting an audit of inmate files and is trying to resolve furloughs issues.

Recently a maximum security inmate was granted a furlough to be with his girlfriend during the birth of their child. Ortiz said such events are not the intent for the furlough program.

When asked by Commissioner Caleb Chandler where the furloughs were originating from, Ortiz said District Court judges have been granting the furloughs.

Ortiz said he is working with the courts to clarify the standards for furloughs.

Also discovered were three cases where inmates did not return from furloughs and were being listed in the system as “AWOL,” a military acronym for “absent without leave”.

Ortiz said when he discovered the erroneous classification and lax oversight of the furlough program he took immediate steps to resolve it.

“They’re not in the military, so they can’t be AWOL,” Ortiz said, explaining they are actually escapees and warrants have been issued for the three inmates.