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Metropolitan Detention Center

Commissioner Art De La Cruz Proposes Elimination of Disciplinary Segregation at MDC

06/10/2014

Art De La CruzCitizens Advisory Committee recommended to review jail use-of-force incidents

Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz is proposing big changes to two important Metropolitan Detention Center policies: he wants to get rid of disciplinary segregation and institute community oversight of use-of-force incidents. Trouble-making inmates are routinely pulled out of the general inmate population and placed in disciplinary segregation.

Disciplinary segregation places an inmate in a cell alone for 23 hours a day with limited privileges, such as not receiving visits and not being allowed to purchase commissary snacks. The inmate is escorted out of the cell daily for one hour of recreation and to shower.

“I think it’s time to look for more humane ways to manage inmates who misbehave or act up,” says Commissioner Art De La Cruz. “I’m especially concerned about housing inmates in disciplinary segregation who may be acting out because they’re suffering with some sort of mental health issue.”

Currently, 38 inmates or about 2 percent of MDC’s inmate population is housed in disciplinary segregation units.

 De La Cruz is planning to draft legislation for the Board of Commission to consider that would make significant changes to MDC’s method of inmate discipline. Jail administrators have already been asked to research alternative methods of discipline.

Commissioner De La Cruz is also proposing to reactivate the Citizens Advisory Committee and give members authority to do the following: review current cases of inmates placed in disciplinary segregation; weigh in on any new inmate discipline policy; and review circumstances that result in use-of-force by correctional officers.

“The Citizens Advisory Committee would allow for much needed community input and provide for a third-party external review process of every use-of-force incident involving an inmate,” De La Cruz says.

The jail is currently revising its use-of-force policies to ensure that correctional officers know when it’s appropriate to use force and how much force to apply when physical take-downs, Tasers and pepper spray-like inflammatory agents are required to re-gain control of a situation.

De La Cruz would also like to pay volunteer members of the Citizens Advisory Committee a per diem to cover some of their expenses.

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