Updated: March 26, 2020 03:12 PM
Created: March 26, 2020 11:40 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) is releasing some inmates who are considered vulnerable to COVID-19.
MDC has a list identifying 86 inmates who meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for medical risk. Four inmates were already released after a hearing on Tuesday.
46 of the listed inmates are in custody facing violent charges and are considered ineligible for release due to those charges.
“MDC had to weigh the violent charges certain inmates were being held for against their susceptibility to the COVID-19 virus,” MDC Chief Ralph Fernandez said. “We have already vacated two living area pods to use for quarantine and we also have four negative pressure rooms to use for quarantine, so there is no need to release inmates charged with violent crimes.”
The district attorney, public defender's office and MDC will work together to decide who else will be released. 17 of those on the list are already in a community custody program or halfway house programs.
Officials say another list of non-violent inmates is also being made in order to further bring down overall inmate levels.
As of Thursday, no MDC inmate or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.
Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Gilbert Gallegos released the following statement:
"We were aware it was being considered but were not notified or given an opportunity to participate in decisions about when, how, or who would be released."
Statement from Albuquerque District Defender Jennifer Barela:
“We here at the LOPD have been working with the Bernalillo County attorney team and the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office to try to get as many highly vulnerable clients out of MDC as possible. We appreciate that DA Torrez is taking COVID-19 seriously, and we will continue to work with him and the county to get other nonviolent offenders released. Some of these individuals are being held for lower level, nonviolent offenses, like shoplifting or a probation violation for a nonviolent offense. Many of our clients are still struggling with their drug addiction, and now their life is at risk because social distancing simply isn’t possible at MDC. It’s not worth risking someone’s life because they took something for $50 or are struggling to stay sober.”
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