Bernalillo County officials consider re-adding the city of Albuquerque into management of the MDC
Bernalillo County officials say they want to explore a new governance model that would incorporate additional entities like the city of Albuquerque in the management of the Metropolitan Detention Center.
The county took over control of the jail’s management from the city back in 2006, and according to reporting by the Albuquerque Journal, currently spends about 19% of its general fund operating budget, or $65 million annually on the facility.
The Metropolitan Detention Center has recently struggled with a massive operational challenge, with chronic understaffing and more than a dozen in-custody deaths since April 2020.
County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada was the one who publicly broached the topic on Tuesday of making the jail its own entity.
This would allow oversight from multiple public agencies, making sure to emphasize the importance of city involvement.
He also referred to the Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority as a potential blueprint. County Commissioners Charlene Pyskoty, Walt Benson, and MDC Chief Greg Richardson all voiced their support for studying potential changes.
County Manager Julie Morgas Baca told the Journal that any study the county does on governance changes could run parallel with some proposed state-level research.
A memorial introduced during this year’s legislative session called for study of the costs, benefits, and feasibility of moving to a “unified” state jail and prison system.
Commissioner Adriann Barboa shared some reservations about shakeups. Saying she supported research, but the county being the sole manager of the jail allows for a certain level of accountability.
Joseph Trueque, the president of the union that represents the MDC officers said a restructure could be promising, but asked that the jail’s more immediate problems be addressed first.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s office did not answer the Journal’slate Tuesday about whether the city had discussed this with the county, or was interested in becoming involved.