Union president addresses security issues and staff shortages at MDC
“Right now the environment at MDC, the morale, is at rock bottom,” Trujeque said.
Other assaults on officers and inmates have recently led to prosecutions after an inmate was beaten to death in his cell in October.
“That’s the kind of thing that happens because of understaffing,” Trujeque said.
He says this is the biggest problem at the prison and that last week 12 officers quit.
“We are at 40% vacancies, about 200 officers are missing,” Trujeque said.
And those who work take a lot.
“Everyone has to do double duty, work twice as much.”
For each officer, they supervise approximately 35 to 40 inmates. And those who are locked inside know it and take advantage of it.
“They will rig their doors. Sometimes they may rig their doors where they can get out to use the phone or smuggle contraband back and forth.”
Now, a big fear of these officers is that it’s only a matter of time before a riot breaks out.
“It can happen at any time. There is no one to respond to emergencies, so if you opened a door and an inmate started attacking you and you called for help, there is no nobody to come,” Trujeque said.
Then came the county cyberattack, which has still not been fully resolved.
“The ability to see these cameras has diminished. We’re not back to 100%. There are people who still can’t see them.”
Impact not only on security, but also on the remuneration of agents. Some received more money than usual, and others not enough.
“It also caused a few people to quit because they’re working all of this over time and they weren’t getting paid for it.”
All this adds to the stress of the officers. Now, Bernalillo County has voted to help the MDC by requesting assistance from the New Mexico National Guard to help with staffing.
“It’s not a long-term solution,” Trujeque said.
That change has to happen soon, or Trujeque believes things are changing, he doesn’t know what the MDC will look like six months from now.
“If we don’t act now and we don’t act quickly, there will be no one left to run the prison, that will be the end result.”
Trujeque says there must be more long-term solutions for the MDC and is also calling for salary increases for officers.