Third inmate death of 2023 highlights concerns at MDC

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Metropolitan Detention Center reported the third inmate death of 2023, as the jail tries to boost staffing and improve medical care.

Benalillo County officials said 65-year-old Chris Moya went into medical distress and couldn’t be revived.

However, KOB 4 has learned the death was an apparent suicide in the jail’s restricted housing unit – what many know as segregation.

MDC has been struggling with both correctional officer staffing and medical personnel. Now, they’ve also cut ties with their correctional medical healthcare partner they outsource medical care and staffing.

In October 2021, their partner, Yes Care, signed with MDC for what was supposed to be a 4-year, $65 million contract. Instead, they’ll be on their way out this June.

Outsourcing medical care means MDC and Bernalillo County don’t have control over who’s hired on the medical staff. However, the county has control over what company they bring in.

While there have been particular concerns about deaths among inmates who were detoxing, that does not appear to be what happened in the latest death.

Moya was picked up by BCSO deputies Tuesday. He apparently said he used to be a jail officer, so that’s believed to be the reason he was in restricted housing.

Sources told KOB 4 Moya was found with a blanket around his neck. We asked Bernalillo County about using the term “medical distress” to describe an inmate’s apparent suicide. A spokesman said the county planned to wait for a sheriff’s office report before any changes to its description.