ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Metropolitan Detention Center is releasing some of its inmates who are considered vulnerable to coronavirus.
MDC identified 86 inmates who met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for the medical risk of the virus. The CDC guidance is based on age and or medical condition. Of the 86 identified, 46 of them are facing violent charges which deem them ineligible for release.
“MDC had to weigh the violent charges certain inmates were being held for against their susceptibility to the COVID-19 virus,” said MDC Chief Ralph Fernandez in a press release. “We have already vacated two living area pods to use for quarantine and we also have four negative pressure rooms to use for quarantine, so there is no need to release inmates charged with violent crimes.”
Seventeen of the remaining identified inmates are already in a community custody program and halfway house programs. The list of all 86 inmates has been provided to the Law Office of the Public Defender and the District Attorney’s Office to work on releasing any inmates who qualify.
Both offices must agree on the list of inmates submitted to the judge for consideration. On Tuesday, March 24, eight inmates received a hearing in district court and the judges released four of them.
The four that were not released were moved into MDC’s community custody program. The inmates remaining on the list will need a court hearing for modification on their condition of release or are not eligible due to an outside county hold.
On Wednesday, March 25, the District Attorney’s Office and the Law Office of the Public Defender identified 12 additional inmates to release to community supervision. The public defender’s office, the district attorney, and MDC will continue to determine vulnerable inmates for participation in the community custody program.
Two inmates were granted early release by a judge and were placed on probation.
Bernalillo County reports that MDC is creating a separate list of non-violent misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenders who are not vulnerable to COVID-19 who could be released in the near future. Any inmate that is released, whether they are in the community custody program or early release, will have to go before a judge who will set conditions of release.
To promote social distancing in the living area pods of MDC, a few inmates per hour are being let out into the common area at one time on a rotating schedule. Starting next week, all inmate court proceedings will be held by video only at the jail.