ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Under the best of conditions, traversing the miles between the city of Santa Fe and the county jail off Highway 14 can be bothersome.
For someone covering the distance on foot in the middle of winter, it can be deadly.
City and county officials have taken note and are working to find a way to move inmates, many of them homeless, who lack transportation options.
Jail director Pablo Sedillo said the issue is “a concern to me. I think it’s a concern to the community.”
Newly released inmates walking from the jail into town are at risk for hypothermia, among other problems.
The city of Santa Fe’s Public Safety Committee discussed the issue Tuesday, and agreed the topic merits further discussion.
In the past, jail officials transported newly released inmates to a “central location” within city limits, Sedillo said. But that practice was discontinued because there were “some issues that didn’t meet standards,” he said.
Sedillo said that, while “nothing is etched in concrete,” county officials are now considering a plan where some inmates would be transported while still in custody to an administrative facility on Airport Road.
At that point, inmates could be released and provided with bus passes or other options. St. Elizabeth Shelter, for instance, is talking with the county about perhaps sending a van to the Airport Road building, Sedillo said.
City Councilor Ron Trujillo mused that the city could take over once inmates were moved within city boundaries.
Sedillo emphasized that he wants to find a solution for individuals genuinely without motorized transportation — not provide a shuttle service to all inmates. “We don’t want to open it up for a free ride,” he said.
Jail officials plans to add questions to their intake process to better determine which inmates are homeless, he said.