News & Resources

New Mexico prison department needs more checks for volunteers

Feb 16, 2011 Matt Roesly

A prison department in New Mexico is coming under fire for not doing strict enough background screening of volunteers at its facilities. An investigation by KOAT-TV revealed that jail volunteers in New Mexico were not put through the same criminal history checks as those who were employed by the jail. Though employees are not allowed to have a misdemeanor conviction one year prior to beginning work, those who work for free are not subject to the same restrictions. The Metropolitan Detention Center chief, Ramon Rustin, told the news source that the 500 volunteers who worked at the jail needed to be subject to stricter measures and that he would review the situation. "In my opinion, they need to be universal," Rustin said in an interview with the station. "Anybody that comes into the building needs to have the same checks." Background screenings for those in the prison industry have grabbed headlines in Washington State after a guard was killed. HeraldNet reports that a corrections officer was strangled by an inmate while inside the prison chapel.