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County inmates will not be released

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — No large group of offenders will be released from Sandoval County Detention Center due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Tuesday morning, County Attorney Robin Hammer moved for District Court Judge Christopher Perez to dismiss her petition at the Sandoval County Judicial Complex, according to a press release sent by Sandoval County.

Last week, Hammer requested the release of misdemeanor and non-violent offenders from the jail to comply with social-distancing guidelines and mitigate risk of infection at the jail, according to a petition filed in 13th Judicial District Court.

County and law enforcement agencies joined with local government entities to move 60 inmates to other detention locations. For 18 detainees, local judges reviewed conditions of release or they completed their sentences, according to the press release.

These measures have reduced the jail’s population from 208 to 130 detainees. With these changes, the jail can place one inmate per cell, according to the press release.

“It is the desire of Sandoval County to continue to work with stakeholders to continue to detain dangerous felons, and minimize detention of non-violent and misdemeanor offenders in order to keep the jail population below 120 men and 48 women during the duration of this Health Emergency for the health and safety of detainees, detention center staff and the general public,” according to the release.

The jail contains about 100 staff members, according to the petition.

Written in the petition, persons should not be confined in small spaces together and should remain 6 feet apart.

Nurse Joni Ollila from Corr Health said inmates must pass medical clearance to be accepted by the jail. She added no detainee has tested positive for COVID-19.

The detention center has 24/7 medical services through a contract with Corr Health Corporation.

“This goes to show how far we have come over the last year or so since we found out that the detention center was in ill repair,” said Sandoval County Commission Chairman Dave Heil in the press release. “We owe a lot of thanks to our county manager, Dianne Maes, for taking on the responsibility of upgrading the needs of the detention center, and that is why we were able to get this done in a timely manner.”

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