ESTANCIA, N.M. — A private owner of a central New Mexico county jail says it’s closing that detention center in two months causing anxiety among residents and elected officials

The Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic announced this week the company recently decided to shut down the Torrance County Detention Center on Sept. 23 due to a falling number of inmates.

“Unfortunately, a declining detainee population in general has forced us to make difficult decisions in order to maximize utilization of our resources,” CoreCivic said in a statement. “As a result, operations at the Torrance County Detention Facility will cease on September 23, 2017.”

The facility houses around 600 inmates, most of whom are federal prisoners. Officials say the closure would mean the county would lose around $1 million a year and around 200 jobs.

Torrance County Sheriff Heath White told KOB-TV in Albuquerque (https://goo.gl/yGuVxz) that news of the closure is a “huge bombshell” for the region that includes Moriarty, Clines Corner, and Mountainair. “It’s going to impact this county more than a dollar amount,” White said. “It’s going to lessen our values a little bit because we’re losing those good people that work at that facility.”

If the facility closes, Torrance County Sheriff’s deputies will have to transport inmates hours away to places like Cibola, Clovis, Santa Fe and San Juan counties.

Estancia is 40 miles southeast of Albuquerque.

CoreCivic said it is working to help employees transfer to its other facilities.

A federal audit in April said CoreCivic once hid its practice of triple-bunking in two-person cells at a federal detention center in Kansas before a national group’s inspection and was slow to address understaffing

The report from the Justice Department’s inspector general also said the U.S. Marshals Service failed to adequately oversee its Leavenworth Detention Center. The audit suggested oversight problems could exist beyond the northeastern Kansas prison.

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