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New Mexico Corrections Officials Want Lawmakers To Know The Cost Of Detention

Santa Fe County Corrections
Santa Fe County Corrections

In Fiscal Year 2023, the 25 New Mexico Counties that operate adult corrections facilities spent $336 million on personnel, operations, capital, and medical for their jails. That’s an average of 31% of the counties’ general fund costs.

The cost is expected to be $383 million Fiscal year 2024.

New Mexico Association of Counties General Counsel Grace Phillips says one financial burden the counties face is its cost of housing state prisoners far exceeds what the legislature has appropriated by several million dollars.

She told members of the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee on Monday that the three-cost average of housing state inmates is $7.5 million which is what the counties are now requesting.

“The other thing that has happened more recently,in the last session the legislature decided to end the practice of fines and fees for people in the justice system. I think there was recognition that it was a good policy to do that, but that money needs to be replaced through General Fund dollars,” she said. “I know the administrative offices of the courts is asking for their funds. There is a governmental corrections fund that goes straight to counties and we’re asking that be addressed as well.”

Another matter county corrections is facing across New Mexico is vacancies among staff.

Phillips told lawmakers some counties like Taos and Bernalillo are facing vacancy rates in their corrections department of over 40%. Quay and McKinley are over 50%.

She says another matter is while some counties like Santa Fe have been able to reduce their number of vacancies over the past several months, it’s often at the expense of others luring workers away as well as in neighboring states.