Friday, October 30, 2009

Tri-county jail an alternative?

By John Larson

MAGDALENA – Magdalena Municipal Judge Robert Serna wants Magdalena to have its own jail. Serna voiced his concerns to the Village Board at its meeting Monday night.
“I know it costs a lot of money, but we’re paying Socorro County $91 a day for our prisoners,” Serna said. “And it costs the village a lot in gas to drive them to Socorro.”
Trustee Jack Fairweather said he has reservations about any private business running such a jail.
“The private prison industry is a scam and I will never be in favor of bringing it in,” Fairweather said.
Mayor Jim Wolfe said building a jail for Magdalena would require federal or state grant money, and possibly capital outlay funding, which would not likely to happen soon in light if the state’s budgetary problems.
“But,” he said. “There may be an alternative coming up.”
He said he spoke with County Commissioner Rosie Tripp Saturday at the Village Hall open house ceremony.
“There is a possibility that the city of Socorro and the county will be talking of a new detention facility on the west side of Socorro,” Wolfe said.
Commissioner Tripp told the Mountain Mail Tuesday that a new detention center for the county is crucial, and that she plans on meeting with city and county officials to discuss its feasibility.
She said the idea is for a new tri-county detention center to house prisoners from Socorro, Catron, and Sierra counties.
“This is something we desperately need,” Tripp said. “I think that was thought about a number of years ago, but then it was to include Torrance County prisoners. It’s more realistic to combine the responsibilities with Sierra and Catron counties.”
She said the best location would be on city land near the National Guard Armory.
“I had a really good meeting with Mayor Bhasker about putting our resources together, Tripp said. “He said there is plenty of land out there.”
She said she would like the county to do some long range planning, “instead of going year-to-year-to-year trying to get things done.”
“I would be looking to the future for this project, doing it in a five to ten year plan,” Tripp said. “We could also consider, looking ahead, of putting the entire judicial complex out there, and possibly getting county administrative offices, such as the assessor, the county clerk, and county treasurer. All on one location.”

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