ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - After decades of overcrowding and years spent battling a lawsuit, Bernalillo County started shipping out inmates from the Metropolitan Detention Center on Friday morning.
A decade ago, MDC was supposed to be the answer to overcrowding. The Bernalillo County Commission passed a temporary fix to the overcrowding problem in May setting aside hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay to house inmates in other jails.
Early Friday morning four dozen male inmates were transported to the Sandoval County Detention Center in Bernalillo.
"It was smooth. They got transitioned into another facility smoothly with their personal items," Deputy Bernalillo County Manager Tom Swisstack said.
Sandoval County County Commissioners meeting Thursday night approved an agreement to house MDC inmates at the cost to Bernalillo County of $62 dollars per inmate each day.
Sandoval County is only accepting male inmates from MDC who are low-risk, and MDC is only sending inmates who are serving longer sentences to cut down on transportation costs.
Currently Sandoval County can only take the 48, but they could soon take on more.
"They're busy transitioning some new employees they're bringing back so that they can take those additional inmates," Swisstack said.
Sandoval County's jail population was at 140 before the transfer, not even at half-capacity, while MDC was about 300 inmates over its 2,236-bed capacity.
Bernalillo County officials say Friday's transfer was the first of many although they're hoping to solve overcrowding at MDC in the long run by changing the system.
"The county doesn't control the front doors or the back doors, so we have to work with our partners on these issues," Swisstack said.
Swisstack said transfers are expected to continue next week.
County officials say they're working on an agreement with a private lockup in Colorado, which could house up to 300 male and female inmates from MDC immediately.
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