SANDOVAL COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – Inmates kept escaping from the Sandoval County Detention Center because of major security flaws. Now, the county finally has the money to fix most of those problems and they’re already being implemented.
“As we all know, we had cells with broken doors. We had blind spots throughout the facility. We did not have any perimeter fencing,” says Gilbert Armendariz, Director.
The Sandoval County Detention Center is undergoing a much-needed renovation and the facility’s director, Gilbert Armendariz, says the new improvements can’t come soon enough.
“Worked nights, and it was really scary sometimes going in,” said Dena Trujillo, a Corrections Officer.
These additions come from a $5.1 million gross receipts tax increase that was approved by the county commission last year.
A part of the upgrades include: a fence around the entire perimeter of the jail, x-ray scanners to control what comes in, a video visitation station, and new cameras with 360-degree view capabilities.
“It’s a safety issue. There’s a lot of blind spots that are no longer there with this 360 view as well,” says Armendariz.
Security and safety was a topic of discussion for the commissioners who pointed out a number of inmate escapes in recent years.
“There was an imposter or some other guy, and he got out. He’s in the streets. The two people that I saw they climbed out, and they were gone,” says Commissioner Jay Block.
Paul Garcia and Blake McPherson escaped back in May 2017. Officials say the two got out through a hole in the rec. yard fence.
Two months later, another inmate, Ryan Griffin, escaped after pretending to be his cellmate by stealing his ID while he was asleep because he knew his cellmate would be released that day.
All three were eventually caught, but the commissioners blamed the previous administration for the slip-ups and promised to continue to give security at the jail the attention it deserves.
“We can’t let our detention facility get to that point again,” says Commission Kenneth Eichwald.
Now, inmate’s families can do video calls from their homes. The director says those calls, however, do cost a fee for a 30-minute call.
The renovations are expected to be finished by May 2021.