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Eddy county leaders spend time in jail

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Eddy County Detention Center Warden Billy Massingill speaks to county leaders during a tour Tuesday in Carlsbad. (Mike Smith Photo)

CARLSBAD — Eddy County Detention Center Warden Billy Massingill gave county leaders an up close look at the inner workings of the county lock up Tuesday.

“I think it’s state mandated,” Massingill said.

Massingill added that jail operations take up 35 percent of the county’s budget.

“Thirty-five percent of that funding you want to be pretty in tune with what’s going on with it,” he said.

During the tour which included all five county commissioners and Rick Rudometkin county manager and Kenny Rayroux assistant county manager, Massingill told them of the staffing shortages that the jail has been with.

“It’s a particular craft,” Massingill said of working in a jail setting. He said when he talks to children of their adulthood career activities, most want to be a police officer or doctor.

“I’ve never had anybody say, ‘I want to go to work where all the bad people are.’ You have to have individuals that want to do that,” he said.

Massingill said once they find those people who want to work in the jail they must meet certain criteria.

Massingill said there are 15 positions within the Eddy County lock up that have been frozen for sometime due to the county’s budget situation.

County finances appear to be picking up and Massingill said those positions are being talked about.

“The county manager and I have talked one-on-one to try and free up some of those individual spots,” he said. “One of the things were trying to get accredited through the New Mexico Association of Counties and some of those criterias have guidelines and we want to meet those guidelines are people that are overseeing those guidelines.”

During the tour, county officials were told of tier time.

“That’s a tier rotation in our Alpha pod,” Massingill said. “You have one group of individuals say on the top tier that will be locked down the majority of the day and then they come out the end of the day.”

Massingill said inmates are able to come out and eat their meals while they are locked away.

“Then at the end of the day their able to come out and take their showers and call their family. The opposite happens the next day. So their locked down and the opposite tier is now locked down for the entire day,” Massingill said.

County leaders also toured the former juvenile detention facility. Massingill said it was closed down due to numbers.

“The average population for a juvenile was four,” he said. “Today we have three, when I first got here we were busing out or having other entities keep our adults and the peak of that number was 71.”

He said that was costing the county a lot in per diem.

“So now what we do is the services or the individuals that we use for retention or holding our inmates we try to keep them local in Lea County or Chaves County so they can get to their courts and come back-and-forth,” he said.

Massingill has been the warden for three years.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.