ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The pressure is on to reduce the Metropolitan Detention Center population by Sept. 1, or the county may face fines.
It is all because of an 18-year-old legal battle against Bernalillo County for the way it runs the jail.
Deputy manager for public safety, Tom Swisstack, says the county is working to move about 300 inmates to other jails to meet a court settlement agreement deadline
If that doesn't happen?
“The possibility of fines is lingering,” Swisstack said.
The plaintiffs in the case against the county have about two weeks to ask a federal judge to impose fines–something Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson said would require some shuffling of county funds to pay for.
“Obviously if the jail becomes more expensive, that means other portions of the county suffer or the taxpayers suffer with increased cost or reduced services. It is one or the other,” Johnson said.
The county originally planned to move some inmates to a Colorado jail but that fell through and so did the backup plan two weeks ago to move them to Arizona.
“It is not moving as quickly as we would like, and it's a temporary fix but I think the more permanent fix is going to be coming from all the players,” Swisstack said.
Players like legislators, judges, law enforcement and attorneys — that is who the county said truly controls the jail population.
But it is the county that plaintiffs are looking at to execute a practical plan, and time is running out.
Dozens of inmates were transferred to Sandoval County in June and July.
Now, a jail in Estancia may add beds to help Bernalillo County, and the county will have to continue looking out of state, Swisstack said.
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