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Women's Prison in Duke City Closing

By Jackie Jadrnak
Journal Staff Writer
    One of the state's last women's prison will be shut down because of dwindling prison populations, according to a news release.
    The 23 women at that 192-bed minimum-security Camino Nuevo Correctional Facility in Albuquerque will be transferred by the end of the month to the Women's Correctional Facility in Grants, which is the only remaining women's prison in New Mexico.
    Both Camino Nuevo and the Grants prison are operated by the Corrections Corp. of America.
    "We are fortunate to have this problem," Corrections Secretary Joe R. Williams said Tuesdayin a news release. "There are many other states who wish they were in our shoes."
    Camino Nuevo, once a juvenile detention center, was opened as a women's prison in 2006 in response to crowding at Grants. That older prison, with a capacity of 596, was alleged to be housing 663 inmates, according to a lawsuit filed in April 2006 by the American Civil Liberties Union.
    New Mexico's Corrections Department now reports 570 inmates overall— not enough to justify keeping Camino Nuevo open, according to officials.
    Corrections spokeswoman Tia Bland said that both male and female prison populations are dwindling in New Mexico, but corrections officials don't know why. "We don't have a theory," she said.
    Some advocates for prison reform had welcomed the opening of Camino Nuevo, seeing it as an opportunity to develop new programs to help minimum-security inmates to transition back to their families and communities. As a major city, more resources were available and some of the prisoners themselves had family in Albuquerque.
    Louise Grant, spokeswoman for CCA, said women will continue getting the full range of programs at Grants that they received at Camino Nuevo. However, Bland said that a work-release program for inmates will not be available.