Police launch investigation into disturbance at Bernalillo Youth Detention Center
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating what led up to a disturbance at the Youth Detention Center Monday night.
Three people were treated for minor injuries, but it took several hours on to get everything under control. Now, BCSO say they are reviewing video footage and interviewing witnesses.
According to emergency alerts, there was a large group of kids throwing things and barricading entrances inside the facility on Christmas night.
BCSO deputies say there was a group of detainees inside a pod refusing to obey commands.
The Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center is a temporary home for youth going through the juvenile justice system. It’s been a focal point the last few months as state leaders try to grapple with a rise in gun-related, violent juvenile crimes.
After a big decline in youth population in 2021, the number of kids held in detention is on the rise.
Attorneys with the Law Offices of the Public Defender often represents children charged with serious crimes.
“While juvenile jail is trying their best, there are still not enough staff to handle the kids in custody,” said Dennica Torres, District Defender with the Second Judicial District.
They point to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order that pushes to lock up more teens accused of crimes involving guns.
They say the lack of staffing means, “they aren’t getting outdoors for recreation, and they aren’t leaving their cells for classes.”
KOB 4 reached out to the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center to ask about detention numbers, staffing and what the facility is doing as a response to the incident Monday. No one answered our questions.
We did ask the governor’s office if any attention is on staffing as it relates to the juvenile justice portion of her executive order.
A spokesperson didn’t really answer that question but did say if a facility is full they do not accept individuals.
KOB 4 was told everything is back under control at the youth detention center. No word if any charges will be filed.
The Law Offices of the Public Defender provided the following statement Tuesday:
“While the juvenile jail is trying their best, there are still not enough staff to handle the kids in custody, let alone the ones the governor’s hasty and ill-considered orders are keeping in – despite better and safer places for them to be. The order to jail any child caught with a gun makes it impossible to treat kids as individuals, and we are supposed to be keeping them safe as much as we are the community. What we are seeing is children who made a foolish mistake, simply carrying a gun in a backpack to look cool, being jailed alongside children facing first-degree murder and other serious charges. They aren’t getting outdoors for recreation, and they aren’t leaving their cells for classes. Remember many of these kids can’t read. These kids who are being kept in jail under this order aren’t coming out better and smarter. They are coming out traumatized, less educated, less socialized and with criminal connections. With the consequences of jailing kids so high, this can’t be a blanket policy.”
The governor’s office also sent a statement to KOB 4:
“To be clear: the order directs juvenile probation officers to ask the presiding judge to detain juveniles accused of a violent offense. It’s important to note that when juvenile detention facilities are at capacity, they do not accept additional individuals. It is therefore inaccurate and incorrect to state that there is an overcrowding problem that has been caused by the Governor’s Executive Order.
A large percentage of gun-related crimes in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are being committed by minors, and while we understand the need to balance rehabilitation with accountability, the fact is that a gun is no less dangerous in the hands of a juvenile.”