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A woman died in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center on Monday morning – the second person to die at the facility less than a month into the year.
Larry Gallegos, a Bernalillo County spokesman, confirmed there had been a death, but did not answer any questions about it.
“MDC is going through a preliminary assessment of the situation and we’ll get back to you with more information when it is available,” Gallegos wrote in an email.
He also could not provide any information about a man who had died at the jail 10 days earlier.
In that case, a spokeswoman had said previously that a man was found unresponsive while jail staff were organizing out-of-cell time for inmates in a living unit on Jan. 13. She said the staff had started rescue efforts and called for emergency medical services, but were unsuccessful and the man died.
The two deaths are the latest at the beleaguered facility, which has been plagued by understaffing among correctional officers and medical staff. The vacancy rate for correctional officers has topped 50%.
Including Monday’s incident, 20 people have died in custody of the state’s largest jail since the beginning of 2020. A number of those deaths were while inmates were detoxing from drugs or alcohol, but others were suicides or from natural causes. There was one homicide.
An expert tasked with examining medical care at the jail found in August that the nursing staff were overburdened, impacting the quality of their detox assessments and increasing risk to inmates.