New Mexico shrinks reliance on for-profit prison operators

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is on the cusp of finalizing prison takeovers that will reduce private prison operations to 25% of inmate beds, amid a plunge in prison population numbers statewide.

Corrections Secretary Alisha Tafoya Lucero briefed a panel of state lawmakers Wednesday on negotiations by her agency to take over day-to-day prison operations in Grants and Sant Rosa from for-profit companies.

Private operators oversaw nearly 50% of available prison beds in early 2019.

At the same time, New Mexico’s prison population has undergone a precipitous decline since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. But Tafoya Lucero cautioned against further prison closures.