Corrections Could Take Steps To Slow Growth, Save Money
The Corrections Department could do more to reduce prison crowding and save the state money, an LFC staff review of operations indicates.
The evaluation, scheduled to be presented to the committee at 1 p.m. on June 14, lists problems with contract management, parole planning, and programs that keep prisoners from coming back.
The department could save $2 million a year by amending its contract with the private company that runs the Hobbs prison, the review says. Even though staffing level requirements were cut in March, the state is paying the operator the same amount.
The evaluation also notes unspent department money for community-based corrections programs is allowed to stay with the behavioral health contractor, which earns interest on the money.
A lack of community corrections programs is contributing to more inmates serving parole inside the prisons, costing taxpayers an estimated $10 million more a year than if those prisoners were serving parole outside, the review says.
The report notes more than half of New Mexico prisoners will be back in prison within five years, but the department has expanded unproven programs to reduce recidivism while cutting funding for programs demonstrated to work, such as corrections industries.
Four prisons have unused corrections industries space and equipment is idle at two prisons. Sewing machines are still unpacked at Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs, and $300,000 in recently purchased license plate equipment is unused at the prison in Santa Fe.
New Mexico’s prison population is projected to exceed capacity within the next decade, the report says.
As part of the evaluation, LFC staff worked with the Pew Center for the States to implement a cost-benefit model developed in Washington state. The model has helped Washington reduce prison populations and cut costs.
New Mexico is only the second state outside Washington to use the model.