Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hepatitis C Treatment


HEPATITIS C TREATMENT
NEW MEXICO DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS

The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

how many inmates have hepatitis c?
There are approximately 3,125 inmates with Hepatitis C; roughly half of the inmate population.

What are the costs involved in treating one individual who has Hepatitis C?*
New oral treatment reports fewer side effects and, in certain cases, a 90% - 98% cure rate of patients. Different genomes require differing treatments and drugs. Costs vary dramatically from drug to drug. For example, those with Genotype 3A could be treated for 24 weeks at a cost of $288,000 per person. Those with Genotype 1 could be treated for 12 weeks at a cost of $69,000 per person.

Due to the ambiguity of both the inmate growth projections provided by the NM Sentencing Commission and the cost to treat Hepatitis C, which varies depending on type, the Department has requested a supplemental appropriation in FY16 of $10 million.
How many patients have you treated/planning on treating?

From July, 2015 to early January, 2016, NMCD has treated 26 patients. Of those 26, the virus is now undetectable in 9. In FY17, NMCD is projecting to treat 150 people.
what is project echo, and how is nmcd involved?

In July 2015, NMCD joined with Project ECHO to collaborate on treatment for Hepatitis C. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a collaborative model of medical education and care management. The ECHO model™ does not actually “provide” care to patients. Instead, it dramatically increases access to specialty treatment in rural and under served areas by providing front-line clinicians with the knowledge and support they need to manage patients with complex conditions such as hepatitis C via Tele-Echo clinics. It does this by engaging clinicians in a continuous learning system and partnering them with specialist mentors at an academic medical center or hub. From a prevention perspective, Project ECHO also educates within facilities so that inmates can help spread awareness to peers regarding the transmission of infectious diseases, including Hepatitis C.

how is treatment determined?

NMCD’s goal is to utilize evidence-based treatment for NMCD inmates infected with Hepatitis C, while at the same time being prudent financial stewards of New Mexico taxpayer money.

We utilize the Indigent Community Standard of Care and consistent with:

§  Project ECHO (University of New Mexico),

§  American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD),

§  The Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA)

§  The Federal Bureau of Prisons

Based on existing resources, it is our goal to treat the sickest among us first. Treatment plans are developed in conjunction with Project ECHO. We treat based on the existing community indigent standard of care. Within the NMCD, once a patient has completed the medical screen and appropriate labs/other diagnostic studies, the patient is presented to a panel of subject matter experts via the University of New Mexico Project ECHO specialists. Treatment is initiated and the patient is monitored based upon evidence based guidelines. There is a weekly conference between Corizon Health providers and the members of the Project ECHO team to discuss tentative candidates, and to monitor treatment progress of those individuals who have been initiated on treatment.         
*
Costs vary. These are rough / estimated figures.     


CONTACT: LUCY RIVER, POLICY & LEGISLATIVE OUTREACH DIRECTOR: 505.259.4743
                               

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

PPO Caseloads


PROBATION & PAROLE OFFICER CASELOADS

NEW MEXICO DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS

 
The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

 
The states Probation and Parole Division is currently operating at a vacancy rate of 20%. On the other hand, the probation/parole population has risen by 521 offenders over the last quarter, resulting in a total population of 17,317 offenders. As a result, the average standard case load is currently 110 per officer, which is up seven over the last quarter.
These peace officers put their lives on the line every single day, working within some of the most dangerous and negative environments and circumstances a man or woman could choose to work within our country. As the department has significantly decreased its use of segregation, increased congregative movement and social interactions for inmates, and increased the delivery of educational/vocational programming, although important and appropriate, it has also simultaneously has increased risk within our prisons. With increased risk for both inmates and staff, our correctional officers are the first responders for inmates in need. On the other hand, there are no first responders for the correctional officer. When an officer is assaulted inside a facility, there is no 911.

Perhaps even more importantly, the daily effectiveness of our state’s prisons is dependent upon precise and repeated attention to detail when line officers carry out their responsibilities, particularly security posts and rounds carried out within our states prisons, twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week.  Fatigue and low staff morale, resulting from significant amounts and mandatory overtime cause correctional officers who are on duty to not be at their best performance. Working mandatory overtime can cause correctional officers to experience sleep deprivation. Fatigue from long shifts can reduce attention to detail and affect critical thinking and performance.
Additionally, when correctional officer staffing remains so dramatically and consistently below minimal levels, normal activities such as contraband searches, training, offender programming, and other necessary activities, such as inmate recreation and visitation designed to manage inmate conduct, can't be conducted.

With officer staffing vacancies at a critical level, it is our aim to fill vacant posts, and increase compensation for new and veteran officers.  It is imperative that, for the security of each officer, and for the body of inmates in our custody, that we increase and retain staff in our prison facilities. The men and women officers of the NMCD are under-paid, underappreciated, and our current vacancy rates put them at the risk of potential harm. We can no longer continue the status quo. We ask that you support the State Personnel Office request to increase compensation to Correctional Officers.


CONTACT: LUCY RIVER, POLICY & LEGISLATIVE OUTREACH DIRECTOR: 505.259.4743 OR LUCYA.RIVER@STATE.NM.US


 

 

 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Barack Obama: Why we must rethink solitary confinement - The Washington Post/U.S. Department of Justice Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing


The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

How many state correctional organizations get public kudos from a sitting U.S. president?  In a time when our state seems to fare poorly on so many lists, the courage and work of the men and women of the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) now translates into national standards.  Four years ago, the department undertook a hard look at itself.  In a reexamination of our mission, we agreed that as a correctional system were about public safety, not quiet prisons.  We acknowledged that because 96% of all offenders sentenced to prison eventually return to our neighborhoods, what we do behind our prison walls and what we do supervising offenders on parole within our state’s neighborhoods is essentially supercharged public safety!  In our development of a new vision, from the line to the executive levels of our organization, we agreed to dedicate our work toward setting the ethical and operational standards for correctional practices in our state.  Now, as you will see on pages 75 and 76 of the U.S. Department of Justice Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing, the remarkable men and women of the NMCD not only continue to translate that vision into reality for our state, but for our nation, as well.  

Because restrictive housing units are essentially jails within our prisons, much can be learned from this work when examining our criminal justice system this legislative session.  By adopting a predatory lens for who is held in restrictive housing and seeking more savvy alternatives for those who are not predators, we have reduced our longstanding overuse of restrictive housing.  Perhaps the lessons of this work now create an opportunity for shared public safety meaning for our criminal justice system.  By adopting a similar predatory lens for determining how we use prison, while committing to more savvy community correctional and treatment alternatives for non-predators, could we not create a safer New Mexico while reducing our prison population?  It’s something for discussion, no doubt!.

 Now, an organization for so long known only for the most violent and tragic prison riot in American history, leads the nation into a new era of public safety-centered practices. We hope you are as proud of these remarkable men and women as we are!  We hope that you see the parallels of our work on segregation and the safety and security of New Mexico’s neighborhoods! Thank you for all you do!

 
Respectfully,

 Gregg Marcantel
Secretary of Corrections
 

 

 

Barack Obama: Why we must rethink solitary confinement




















Barack Obama is president of the United States
 
In 2010, a 16-year-old named Kalief Browder from the Bronx was accused of stealing a backpack. He was sent to Rikers Island to await trial, where he reportedly endured unspeakable violence at the hands of inmates and guards — and spent nearly two years in solitary confinement.

In 2013, Kalief was released, having never stood trial. He completed a successful semester at Bronx Community College. But life was a constant struggle to recover from the trauma of being locked up alone for 23 hours a day. One Saturday, he committed suicide at home. He was just 22 years old.

Solitary confinement gained popularity in the United States in the early 1800s, and the rationale for its use has varied over time. Today, it’s increasingly overused on people such as Kalief, with heartbreaking results — which is why my administration is taking steps to address this problem.

There are as many as 100,000 people held in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons — including juveniles and people with mental illnesses. As many as 25,000 inmates are serving months, even years of their sentences alone in a tiny cell, with almost no human contact.

Research suggests that solitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences. It has been linked to depression, alienation, withdrawal, a reduced ability to interact with others and the potential for violent behavior. Some studies indicate that it can worsen existing mental illnesses and even trigger new ones. Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, especially juveniles and people with mental illnesses.

The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance. Those who do make it out often have trouble holding down jobs, reuniting with family and becoming productive members of society. Imagine having served your time and then being unable to hand change over to a customer or look your wife in the eye or hug your children.

As president, my most important job is to keep the American people safe. And since I took office, overall crime rates have decreased by more than 15 percent. In our criminal justice system, the punishment should fit the crime — and those who have served their time should leave prison ready to become productive members of society. How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people? It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our common humanity.

That’s why last summer, I directed Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and the Justice Department to review the overuse of solitary confinement across U.S. prisons. They found that there are circumstances when solitary is a necessary tool, such as when certain prisoners must be isolated for their own protection or in order to protect staff and other inmates. In those cases, the practice should be limited, applied with constraints and used only as a measure of last resort. They have identified common-sense principles that should guide the use of solitary confinement in our criminal justice system.

The Justice Department has completed its review, and I am adopting its recommendations to reform the federal prison system. These include banning solitary confinement for juveniles and as a response to low-level infractions, expanding treatment for the mentally ill and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary can spend outside of their cells. These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement — and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems. And I will direct all relevant federal agencies to review these principles and report back to me with a plan to address their use of solitary confinement.


States that have led the way are already seeing positive results. Colorado cut the number of people in solitary confinement, and assaults against staff are the lowest they’ve been since 2006. New Mexico implemented reforms and has seen a drop in solitary confinement, with more prisoners engaging in promising rehabilitation programs. And since 2012, federal prisons have cut the use of solitary confinement by 25 percent and significantly reduced assaults on staff.

Reforming solitary confinement is just one part of a broader bipartisan push for criminal justice reform. Every year, we spend $80 billion to keep 2.2 million people incarcerated. Many criminals belong behind bars. But too many others, especially nonviolent drug offenders, are serving unnecessarily long sentences. That’s why members of Congress in both parties are pushing for change, from reforming sentencing laws to expanding reentry programs to give those who have paid their debt to society the tools they need to become productive members of their communities. And I hope they will send me legislation as soon as possible that makes our criminal justice system smarter, fairer, less expensive and more effective.

In America, we believe in redemption. We believe, in the words of Pope Francis, that “every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.” We believe that when people make mistakes, they deserve the opportunity to remake their lives. And if we can give them the hope of a better future, and a way to get back on their feet, then we will leave our children with a country that is safer, stronger and worthy of our highest ideals.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/barack-obama-why-we-must-rethink-solitary-confinement/2016/01/25/29a361f2-c384-11e5-8965-0607e0e265ce_story.html

CONTACT: LUCY RIVER, POLICY & LEGISLATIVE OUTREACH DIRECTOR: 505.259.4743

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Hard Time Seeing A Future


PROBATION & PAROLE OFFICER, CONOR COLEMAN:
“A HARD TIME SEEING A FUTURE”
NEW MEXICO DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS

 The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

    Probation and Parole Officer (PPO), Conor Coleman, tells us that “a lot of officers have a
hard time seeing a long-term future with the department.”

Why? “There doesn’t seem to be much incentive, economically, to stick around,” he replies.
 
“I don’t think anyone is in it for the money” Coleman adds. “A lot of the people drawn to this are really passionate and want to help people. That being said, there are practical concerns. People want to be able to provide for their family. People want to be able to manage their household…buy a home.”

It’s clear that Coleman enjoys his job, which is to supervise probationers and parolees: between 80 and 110 offenders. He meets with offenders, makes sure that they are satisfying the conditions of their supervision, and provides them with resources to aid them with any issues they may have…anger issues, substance abuse, poor vocational skills.

There’s a general feeling that there’s not a lot in the long term with this department, which is devastating. The work is very important and is tremendously rewarding and many, many, many of the officers truly love what they do.”

He views his role as not only an enforcement officer, but also a social worker to help reintegrate the individuals under his supervision.

Conor strikes me as a caring, educated young man. He’s been with the department for four years.

Let’s try to keep him for the long-term. The proposed State Personnel Office’ Compensation Package request would address the issue of pay of PPO’s in our state.





CONTACT: LUCY RIVER, POLICY & LEGISLATIVE OUTREACH DIRECTOR: 505.259.4743

Friday, January 22, 2016

Staffing Shortages


SHORTAGE OF OFFICERS / STAFFING CRISIS
NEW MEXICO DEPT.OF CORRECTIONS


 
 
The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

what are the current officer vacancy rates at nmcd?

Roswell Correctional Center:                          49%

Western NM Correctional Facility:                 40%

Springer Correctional Center:                        48%

Central NM Correctional Facility:                   26%

Penitentiary of New Mexico:                         22%

Southern NM Correctional Facility:                 11%

Probation and Parole:                                   20%

 


Due to the increased vacancies, the department is now faced with limited staffing options for its correctional officer positions. This forces mandatory overtime and places the safety and security of the facility, the integrity of our officers families, as well as public safety at risk. Mandatory overtime has led to greater staff frustration, anger, and resentment, resulting in low morale, higher unauthorized incidents and civil liability, and ultimately an increase in terminations and resignations which aggravate the departments existing rate of staffing vacancies.

Additionally, when correctional officer staffing remains consistently minimal, normal activities such as contraband searches, training, offender programming, and other necessary activities such as inmate recreation and visitation designed to manage inmate conduct can't be conducted. The daily effectiveness of NMCDs operations is dependent upon precise and repeated attention to detail when line officers carry out their responsibilities, particularly those security posts and rounds carried out within our states prisons, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Fatigue and low staff morale resulting from significant amounts and mandatory overtime may cause correctional officers who are on duty to not be at their best performance. Working mandatory overtime can cause correctional officers to experience sleep deprivation. Fatigue from long shifts can reduce attention to detail and affect critical thinking and performance. The fatigue and low morale the department is currently experiencing, both in the facilities and the probation/parole regions, is a direct result of the inability to retain staff, continual mandatory overtime, and lack of other resources over a sustained period of time, resulting in a domino effect for New Mexico’s corrections operations.

 Probation / Parole Officers vs. Caseloads:

The states community supervision functions, the Probation and Parole Division is currently operating at a vacancy rate of 20%. On the other hand, the probation/parole population has risen by 521 offenders over the last quarter, resulting in a total population of 17,317 offenders. Consequently, the average STANDARD case load is currently 110 per officer, which is up seven over the last quarter. If the division was fully staffed the average case load would be a much more manageable 88, closer to nationally recommended supervision caseloads.

 The Corrections journey

 The journeys of correctional and probation/parole officers are unique to most professions.  Unlike most other professions, these folks begin on their first day of the basic training academy. Following 10 weeks of training, they are equipped (to a tune of approximately 7K) and prepared to enter our workforce. At graduation, enthusiasm, motivation, and idealism are the emotions of the day. The positive emotions that carried them through the demands of our academy tend to carry them through a physically and mentally challenging first few months as they confront some of the most negative and challenging circumstances a man or woman could choose!

But anyone exposed to the corrections experience, either as an officer or someone who simply loves them, will tell you that the journey eventually produces changes in that person. Based upon New Mexico’s dangerously critical staffing levels, the amount of work they are required to perform, within the first 36 months of service, the job becomes more than a job. The job (not their spouses and children) become the central defining aspect of their lives. And at the point these changes are taking place, those loved ones find themselves pushed aside. Marriages are strained and often break. Attitudes are strained and often break.  Children are alienated from the parental influence they deserve. Life development, plans, hobbies, and vacations are put on hold because theres no time for them. Very soon, these once idealistic young men and women become emotionally distant, hardened, and physically absent from the lives of those sharing their journey on the home front. They become far less effective in both their workspaces and homes.  At some point, many of these men and women are forced to form 1 of 2 conclusions:

 o   “Im going to do a little as possible, do my time, and then get the hell out of here the day that Im eligible for retirement” or;

o   “Im out of here!”

 And therein lies the true problem for New Mexico. The New Mexico Corrections Department, an important compliment for the state’s criminal justice system and public safety, loses almost all of its graduating rookies within the first 3 years of their service to our state. The department’s inability to compete within the job market has left the organization at critically low levels of staffing that has resulted in dangerous circumstances and unsustainable operations. More often, when faced with poor service outcomes, government remains more inclined to look to new systems, structures, processes, or technology to solve its problems when more often our problems are human.  We hope youll agree that they are as important an asset for investment as all others.

 The solution?

The ability to focus directly on agencies such as the New Mexico Corrections Department, who are burdened with hard to fill, hard to retain public safety positions, with a pay plan that makes the department both locally and regionally competitive with the industry standards could prove significantly beneficial to the department both now and into the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the department is working with the State Personnel Office to develop a targeted pay band system for corrections and probation and parole officers. If approved and funded, the new pay bands will bring officers rate of pay up. SPO and NMCD researched starting pay for officers in other states and at local county jails. The Metro Detention Center in Bernalillo County, with a starting pay of $17.45 an hour, was evaluated as a comparative for the analysis for the proposed pay band for NMCD correction officers. Currently, correctional officers have the lowest pay in the country.
















Thursday, January 21, 2016

I could never do their job...

Dear Members of the Legislature:

 The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

 In a frigid week in December, I stand in the foyer of the super-maximum security facility at PNM (Penitentiary of New Mexico) in Santa Fe, waiting to go in. This unit recently changed its name to the Predatory Management Program facility (PMP), where most of the violent offenders and gang members are housed, watched over by several Correctional Officers (COs) who have worked an average of 64 hours this week.

On my way from the parking lot, I’d passed a few orange-clad, low-security worker-inmates (porters), futilely blowing leaves away from the door only to have them blown back by the pre-snow wind. Inside the glass front doors sopping-wet towels bolster the under-door cracks, to either keep out the cold, or soak up the incoming elements.

 It’s freezing.

 Prior to being hired as the Policy & Legislative Outreach Director, I had never been inside a prison. In my former career as a police officer, I had been inside a jail, certainly, but the eerie silence, 80’s d├ęcor, and decrepit walls are new to me.

 I begin my tour of the facility, passing the lethal injection unit on the way to the PMP, escorted by two COs. Stories of mandatory overtime, or “voluntary” overtime to avoid being mandated overtime in a less-desirous post, and only six-hours of sleep between, mingle with the institutional feel of paint-peeled walls and clanging doors.

 300 million dollars in deferred maintenance has real meaning to me now, as I look at a crack that reaches from floor to ceiling on the medical-green wall.

 An inmate walks by, guarded by two officers, cuffs and chains clinking, on his way to APA - the mental health unit. These COs have no guns, but they are in physical contact with the inmate’s arms. Who did he kill, I wonder? Do I nod or offer an awkward half-smile of acknowledgement as he passes by?

 I go with the latter.

 The hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I can smell the heaviness of the collective crimes housed within the walls of the PMU.

 A group of officers congregates. My questions about pay scales and overtime have drawn a crowd.

 I’m struck by the lack of true defensive weapons on these men and women.

 As a police officer, I always had my gun, my pepper spray, or my Taser. I avoided going “hands-on” unless provoked. These COs go “hands-on” every day, with escorting duties or what-not. It’s their job. They only deal with violent offenders. There is no break from this life; from the heaviness surrounding PMU.

 Realization dawns as they describe a job more dangerous than a street-cop’s. I ask which of them has been assaulted by an inmate. All of them, I’m told.

 A new CO is paid $13.65 an hour. I know that I could never do their job.
 

Lucy River is the Policy & Legislative Outreach Director for NMCD. She can be reached at 505.259.4743 or by email at lucya.river@state.nm.us.

A PDF document with the most commonly asked questions, published in early January 2016, can be found on our website at: www.cd.nm.gov



 

 

 


 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Letter from the Secretary


The 2016 Legislative Session has arrived. This is one in a series of posts from the staff of the New Mexico Corrections Department. We intend to send a daily update to all our legislators with key points, facts, figures, personal stories describing life here at NMCD.

Dear Members of the Legislature:
This session, as part of our daily emails, you will receive the answers to commonly asked questions regarding the State of New Mexico Corrections Department. We want to inform you of our legislative priorities and goals and ask for your help in meeting them. These FAQ’s are available in PDF format on our website at www.cd.nm.gov.

funding needs
Our legislative priorities this year include receiving adequate funding for our budgetary needs for the remainder of FY16, and for FY17.

Staffing Crisis
The Corrections Department is at breaking point. Based on current rates for officer compensation, the Corrections Department cannot adequately compete in the current job market, losing almost every officer it recruits within thirty-six (36) months. Consequently, the average correctional officer in our prisons works sixty-four (64) hours a week. The states Probation and Parole Division is currently operating at a vacancy rate of 20%. On the other hand, the probation/parole population has risen by 521 offenders over the last quarter, resulting in a total population of 17,317 offenders. As a result, the average standard case load is currently 110 per officer, which is up seven over the last quarter.

These peace officers put their lives on the line every single day, working within some of the most dangerous and negative environments and circumstances a man or woman could choose to work within our country. As the department has significantly decreased its use of segregation, increased congregative movement and social interactions for inmates, and increased the delivery of educational/vocational programming, although important and appropriate, it has also simultaneously has increased risk within our prisons. With increased risk for both inmates and staff, our correctional officers are the first responders for inmates in need. On the other hand, there are no first responders for the correctional officer. When an officer is assaulted inside a facility, there is no 911.
Perhaps even more importantly, the daily effectiveness of our state’s prisons is dependent upon precise and repeated attention to detail when line officers carry out their responsibilities, particularly security posts and rounds carried out within our states prisons, twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week.  Fatigue and low staff morale, resulting from significant amounts and mandatory overtime cause correctional officers who are on duty to not be at their best performance. Working mandatory overtime can cause correctional officers to experience sleep deprivation. Fatigue from long shifts can reduce attention to detail and affect critical thinking and performance.

Additionally, when correctional officer staffing remains so dramatically and consistently below minimal levels, normal activities such as contraband searches, training, offender programming, and other necessary activities, such as inmate recreation and visitation designed to manage inmate conduct, can't be conducted.
With officer staffing vacancies at a critical level, it is our aim to fill vacant posts, and increase compensation for new and veteran officers.  It is imperative that, for the security of each officer, and for the body of inmates in our custody, that we increase and retain staff in our prison facilities. The men and women officers of the NMCD are under-paid, underappreciated, and our current vacancy rates put them at the risk of potential harm. We can no longer continue the status quo. We ask that you support the State Personnel Office request to increase compensation to Correctional Officers.

Our FY17 Operating Budget Request focuses on funding for Inmate Growth, Hepatitis C Treatment, and our Security Threat Intelligence Unit.
Inmate Growth

According to the New Mexico Sentencing Commission Prison Population Forecast published in July of 2015, NMCD will experience growth of 1.2% in the male and 15.6% in the female population in FY17 over FY15. NMCD will be at 98% capacity by July of 2016. In your deliberations this session, we also respectfully ask that you consider that the department has been underfunded for two consecutive years regarding the forecasts of this independent research and has consequently operated in a fiscal deficit.

Hepatitis C Treatment
Accepting wholly its mission to better prepare inmates for their imminent return to New Mexico’s neighborhoods, the department includes restoration of health, and access to healthcare, as managing objectives for its work. There are approximately 3,000 inmates with Hepatitis C; roughly half of the inmate population. NMCD projects that150 inmates will receive treatment in FY17. New oral treatment reports fewer side effects and, in certain cases, a 90% - 98% cure rate of patients. Different genomes require differing treatments and drugs. Costs vary dramatically from drug to drug. For example, those with Genotype 3A could be treated for 24 weeks at a cost of $288,000 per person. Those with Genotype 1 could be treated for 12 weeks at a cost of (approximately) $69,000 per person, etc, using the drug commonly known as Harvoni.

Due to the ambiguity of both the inmate growth projections provided by the NM Sentencing Commission and the cost to treat Hepatitis C, which varies depending on type, the Department has requested a supplemental appropriation for this purpose in FY16.

Security Threat Intelligence Unit (STIU)
Fundamental to our work to reduce the likelihood of re-offending when inmates complete their prison sentences, is to have safe, pro-social prisons, characterized by accountability. In the re-design of its operations, the Corrections Department has sought to create a prison experience that is founded on two important principles. First, when an inmate is sentenced to a New Mexico prison, he/she must understand the importance of becoming accountable for their crimes and the impact of their choices upon others. Second, our prison operations must be designed and driven by the reality that most offenders sentenced to prison possess to ability to grow more accountable from their circumstances. As NMCD inmates experience more congregate movement within the prisons, the STIU Unit becomes even more crucial to increasing risk mitigation. The purpose of the expansion is to increase intelligence capabilities inside the prison to reduce assaults on inmates and staff, reduce contraband introduced into the facilities, and to ensure fugitive absconder compliance. 

Legislation

Absconding as a 4th Degree Felony
NMCD is introducing a bill that both defines and makes absconding a 4th degree felony. Absconding from parole or probation generally means that the offender essentially evades any and all conditions of supervision. Typically, the offender moves to another location unknown to the Probation and Parole Division in order to try to avoid detection and all supervision conditions. At this point, there is no criminal penalty for absconding. The case of Andrew Romero, who is accused of shooting and killing Rio Rancho police officer Gregg “Nigel” Benner in 2015 after he had absconded from probation supervision, underscores the dangers that absconders can pose to the community.

The Department currently has approximately 1,700 absconders, but only 12 investigators available to attempt to locate and apprehend these offenders. Many absconders are often released by judges, right back to supervision with little or no prison time, only to abscond again. A criminal penalty would likely deter some offenders from absconding and ultimately lower the number of absconders over time, to the benefit of public safety.

In its efforts to improve its public safety outcomes through redesign of its operations, the Corrections Department recognizes the most recent and relevant social science relating to risk for both re-offending and future violence. Social researchers recognize and have reported a correlation between disobedience to and disregard of court orders with increased risk for both. Consequently, the Corrections Department must also recognize and promote a foundational principle of accountability in its work. In a more balanced approach to carrying out its public safety responsibilities, the department must also emphasize the return of offenders who disregard and violate court ordered supervision. 

focus areas

In addition to all of the above, we have prioritized the following areas of focus:

-  Continued reduction in the use of segregation as a management tool;

-  Suppression and elimination of the negative and violent effects of prison gangs within our prisons;

-  Recidivism reduction through the integration of evidence based programming and operations;

- Gender-specific programming for female inmates sentenced to New Mexico prisons, and;

- Continued focus upon reducing the number of release eligible inmates (REIs) through expansion of our community-based corrections, treatment, and transitional living infrastructure.
To better support you during this year’s legislative session, we will email daily blog posts, containing information that may be useful to inform your decisions.

If at any point during the session you have questions or concerns, please contact our Policy & Legislative Outreach Director, Lucy River, at (cell) 505.259.4743, or LucyA.River@state.nm.us.
As always, I am also available to speak with you directly. Have a great 2016 Session!












CONTACT: LUCY RIVER, POLICY & LEGISLATIVE OUTREACH DIRECTOR: 505.259.4743 OR LUCYA.RIVER@STATE.NM.US