April 15, 2004
Jail To Solve Overcrowding Now Often Near Capacity
The Associated Press
The Metropolitan Detention Center just west of Albuquerque opened in December 2002, a facility that officials hoped would eliminate the overcrowding that plagued the city's downtown jail.
But jail records shows that during the past six months, the average daily population at the new facility has been close to or exceeded its capacity of 2,100 prisoners.
The inmate population generally is around 2,000, but jail director Harry Tipton said spikes during weekends occasionally push the population up to or past capacity.
"At this point we don't see it as a safety problem because we have adequate numbers of corrections officers and can handle having three inmates per cell," Tipton said.
According to figures provided by the Metropolitan Detention Center, the monthly average jail population ranged from 1,978 inmates in October of last year to 2,096 in February.
At the old Bernalillo County Detention Center in downtown Albuquerque the population exceeded the 586-inmate capacity so often that a civil rights lawsuit was filed on behalf of inmates. U.S. District Judge Martha Vasquez mandated a population cap and that led to the construction of the new facility.