There has to be a special place in Hell

By Sandy . . . After several months, the Corona Virus – Covid-19 – shows no signs of abating. Indeed, it is spiking with higher numbers than at any previous point in some states.

New Mexico is one of these.

Social distancing and staying-at-home when possible, along with frequent handwashing and disinfecting of the environment, are known to be the best barriers against contacting the disease. Recognizing this, those in charge of prisons throughout the country put in place pre-release and home confinement programs for portions of their prison population. Some excluded those with sexual offenses from participating in the programs, but others recognized that was a foolish stance to take. See here, here, here, here, and here.

While quite a few states have made the decision not to release those with sexual convictions, as far as can be determined, none but one made the decision to move as many as possible convicted of a sexual crime into the same prison while at the same time moving out all inmates with convictions of any other type.

That distinction belongs to New Mexico alone.

The prison is the Otero County Prison Facility. It is the only prison institution in New Mexico housing a sex offender treatment program. The non-sexual offense convictees were moved out in May. For weeks prior to that and, apparently, continuing even today, many with convictions for a sexual offense were being moved into Otero from other facilities.

Otero also has the distinction of being the only state institution with more than one case of Covid-19. It has, as of June 27, 434 cases, 80% of its total inmate population. Three have died, and eight more are critically ill enough to have been removed from the prison and taken to the hospital.

The single day of June 5 alone saw 129 new individuals testing positive for the virus.

Not a single one, no matter how elderly, no matter how ill, no matter how high risk, has been granted release on a home confinement program or under pre-release conditions. This is due to an executive order from New Mexico governor Michelle Grisham forbidding the release of anyone with a sexual crime conviction.

New Mexico was originally touted in the national press for its low numbers of those testing positive. It was hailed as a state progressive in its prevention techniques and strong leadership in enforcing positive preventive measures. This abandonment of a distinct category of its prison population, however, should have officials hanging their heads in shame. State officials claim that they were not deliberately making a decision about whose lives where worth saving and whose were not.

The facts say otherwise.

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #73964 Reply
      David V C

      So they all have a new sentence without ‘Due Process’….
      “Death by Lethal Infection”!!

    • #73963 Reply
      Timothy D.
      Tim Davich

      This is a very sad situation, one that I feel for every person in the facility and all of their family members. I understand though that we can not blame the prison staff at the facility, they are only following directions from above. It is hard to believe that the NM DOC, and Governor would place themselves in such a place. I would expect that for those who have already past, and those who are sick now they would be suing or families suing the state for cruel and unreasonable punishment or the like as well as the deaths of those who have past. If you place an offender in a situation that places them in more dangerous or harmful conditions then you should be held accountable. It should not matter who you are, we as offenders are taught in therapy to take responsibility for our actions, well now it’s the governor’s and other state officials turn to take responsibility, or be held accountable for their poor choices. As my Grandmother used to say, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • #73968 Reply
      Old Offender

      Sadly the public reaction will, in all likelihood, be “they’re getting what they deserve.” The media has so vilified see offenders that the politicians can mistreat them any way they want without any fear of political consequences.

    • #73970 Reply

      New Mexico should be sued for wrongful death and I don’t care about political immunity. These people have lied about registrants and have no regard for the safety of their communities nor country. So much of the Land of Enchantment; it’s now the land of Harassment which was the true intent of registration. People need to stop being offended of our past as County and learn from it. History is repeating itself and we are in the fast lane on the Highway to Hell!! Time to hit politicians where it hurts… their pocketbooks.

    • #73983 Reply

      New Mexico governor Michelle Grisham! I hope you are wrongfully convicted of a sex crime in your state. I hope they send you to this prison, and I hope you get infected by COVID-19. If there is any justice in this world these things will come to pass for you.

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