Pronews 7 Investigates: Behind Bars in Clovis

Another lawsuit was filed this week in U.S. District court in New Mexico alleging that the injury of an inmate while in jail at the Curry County Detention Center. The jail in Clovis made national headlines after a jail break 2008, and has been attempting to improve its reputation ever since. On this edition of Pronews 7 investigates, Behind Bars in Clovis, we looked at the progress the jail has made and what some said needs to be done to ensure the safety of all inmates.

The lawsuits filed by Portales based lawyer Eric Dixon on behalf of two clients who were injured while in the Curry County Detention Center claim that inmate safety is an ongoing issue at the prison. The suit also alleges that the conditions at the facility are still not adequate. Pronews 7 took a tour of the facility to see firsthand what conditions are like for inmates at this notorious jail.

A video that was captured by a prison camera of a fight will be used as evidence in a lawsuit against the Curry County government. Eric Dixon said his client Veronica Galvan was injured because the prisoners were not sufficiently segregated.

â??Despite my client being a non-violent detainee, she was placed in danger by being placed in a facility where thereâ??s no segregatation of dangerous inmates,â?? said Dixon.

While the Curry County government cannot directly respond to questions surrounding a pending lawsuit, Tori Sandoval, the new administrator at the Curry County Detention Center, invited Pronews 7 to take a look at the improvements at the jail.

â??With the incidents, Iâ??m not going to say that we donâ??t have any, we do have incidents, but weâ??ve seen a decrease in the number and a lot of that is the presence of the officers,â?? said Sandoval.

Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said that the county has moved full speed ahead in improving conditions and restoring the jailâ??s reputation.

â??The 2008 escape should have never happened and it was an embarrassment on the county and since that escape, the county has moved in the right direction to address the problem,â?? said Pyle.

The Curry County detention center has undergone a series of upgrades to ensure safety for employees and inmates alike. During the tour of the facility, we were shown several projects underway that compliment what the detention center staff calls a total rewrite of policy and procedures.

â??As far as enforcing the rules: we redid the inmate handbook and we handed it out to every pod and told them this is how itâ??s going to be,â?? said Director Sandoval. â??If you do not follow this, there will be consequences for your actions and we held them to that.â??

Attorney Eric Dixon told Pronews 7 that all of these efforts have not created a safe environment at the jail. He said the same problems remain under a thin veneer of renovations and policy changes.

â??The county commission has had 14 administrators in the jail over the past 14 years, itâ??s been musical chairs and the same systemic problems are occurring over and over again inmate on inmate violence, lack of control overcrowding, poor facilitiesâ??theyâ??re still the same issues that were there five years ago or ten years ago,â?? said Dixon.

The two cases against Curry County are ongoing and the jail continues to move forward with improvements under the leadership of Tori Sandoval. On the second part of Pronews 7 Investigates: Behind Bars in Clovis we will revisit with Eric Dixon, who is also representing the ex-director of the Curry County Detention Center, and why he believes that the last director of the jail was fired in retaliation for coming forward to the Curry County Commission with concerns.