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  1. #1
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    Julie Jones found a new home

    Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has tapped former Florida prison system leader Julie Jones to run the New Mexico Department of Corrections, an agency plagued by short staffing and aging facilities that are quickly approaching capacity.
    Lujan Grisham said during a news conference Thursday at the Capitol that Jones was seen as a reformer when she was hired in 2015 to run Florida's massive corrections system -- which has more than 10 times the budget and number of inmates as New Mexico's. She's hopeful Jones can play the same role here, the governor said.
    If confirmed by the state Senate for the Cabinet-level corrections secretary job, Jones will take over a department described by the state auditor in 2017 as "rife with mismanagement and financial control problems" and "one of the "poorer run departments in the state."
    Jones will be responsible for overseeing 11 state prisons, which hold more than 7,000 inmates, and the Probation and Parole Division, which monitors more than 17,000 convicted criminals.
    Thanks to low salaries, rural locations and stressful working conditions, New Mexico prisons operate with an average worker vacancy rate of 25 percent -- a figure that spikes to 43 percent in privately run prisons.
    Lujan Grisham's transition team has reported that the shortage is hurting morale within the agency and making prisons less safe for both workers and inmates.
    "Some correctional officers are working 16-hour shifts," according to a transition team report. "Others are working consecutive shifts, with only a few hours break in between. Employee burnout is reported across professions ... and hiring standards/qualifications have been lowered to increase recruitment."
    A report says short staffing also is leading to less programming, "and has created a prison system with 'too many idle inmates.' Overtime costs to cover mandatory security posts and other critical roles cost the department $18 million last year."
    New Mexico has the highest rate in the nation of inmates -- nearly half -- held in prisons run by private companies. About $90 million of the department's approximately $300 million budget is paid to private operators.
    "To put that in a broader context, only five states have 25 percent or more" of their inmates in privately run prisons, said Lauren-Brooke Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and author of Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration. "[New Mexico] is one of those states, and you lead the pack."
    Jones said Thursday that she's familiar with the three major private vendors that contract with the state for services in New Mexico's prison system, and holding them accountable will be a priority.
    Asked last week to comment on the governor's thoughts on private prison management companies, spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said, "Accountability is not just a word to be thrown around or a box to be checked. The governor is expecting that the incoming secretary comprehensively examine the contractual compliance at the private prisons in our state system."
    Civil rights attorneys who have obtained multimillion-dollar settlements for inmates who sued over lack of access to adequate medical care say one sure way to hold prison health care vendors accountable would be requiring that such settlement agreements be made public.
    Under current and previous prison health contracts, vendors handle lawsuits over inmate medical care and are allowed to keep them confidential.
    Asked Thursday if they would push to have civil suit settlements made public, Jones and Lujan Grisham said the issue needs more analysis.
    "We're going to look at that issue and see exactly what decisions we need to make so we can be as transparent as possible," the governor said.
    "I will be very transparent in where the warts are," Jones added, "and the things we need to review and the things that need to be fixed."
    Stelnicki said the governor supports ongoing efforts to reform New Mexico's use of solitary confinement, saying the practice should be used only in "extreme circumstances ... where it it unequivocally necessary," and "that doesn't seem to be happening now."
    One thing on the top of Jones' to-do list, she said, is researching exactly what is happening inside the Department of Corrections and returning to the governor with "soup to nuts recommendations" for making improvements that will "bring value back to the community."
    She said she plans to take a creative approach to solving problems in the troubled department.
    "The prison system always gets a bad rap, but we aren't going to warehouse people," Jones said. "We are going to rehabilitate them."

  2. #2
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    Can anyone honestly say that inept Julie made FDC better during her time? No way. This department got far worse than it was in 2015 with this all talk, no action woman taking over. Please, if you disagree, name two accomplishments? Turnover and morale has never been worse in my 20 years. The pay is horrible, the chain of command is out of date and are road blocks to success. On top of all this, Jones gets hired to another agency and if you wrote a truthful performance report on her tenure, she was a total and complete failure.

  3. #3
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    Starting pay for her is $175.000. So, guess she will be just fine.

  4. #4
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    JJ will be just as incompetent in NM as she was at FDOC. NM's governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) is a moron as well and both only care about her own paychecks. JJ was an affirmative action hire. Nothing will improve for the NM corrections staff.

  5. #5
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    Rotund, rolly polly Jones has never been a CO or CPO, nor has she ever been a supervisor in corrections. But they make her a DC secretary because Scott knew she was a yes person and would toe the line. This old lady was a failure as a leader and a manager and her agency got worse on her watch. Name me a coach or a CEO that gets another job at the same level after being a disaster at their previous stint.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    Rotund, rolly polly Jones has never been a CO or CPO, nor has she ever been a supervisor in corrections. But they make her a DC secretary because Scott knew she was a yes person and would toe the line. This old lady was a failure as a leader and a manager and her agency got worse on her watch. Name me a coach or a CEO that gets another job at the same level after being a disaster at their previous stint.
    Some great points.

    JJ was hired for two main reasons: affirmative action by a Democrat governor who is also a woman, and to run the agency as cheaply as possible, just like she did FDC. Democrats dislike prisons and corrections staff so nobody should be surprised when their pay stays low with no raises.

  7. #7
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    Here lies the problem. Their pay scale for CO's and CPO's are higher than ours in Florida. OUCH

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    Here lies the problem. Their pay scale for CO's and CPO's are higher than ours in Florida. OUCH
    Before or after the state income tax is factored in? Ouch!

  9. #9
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    Well the CO's are paid 45k. Their PO's are paid 52k. I know officer's with 20 + years not making 40k. Factor that number after state taxes dumb ass. But hey, we do have the ocean.

  10. #10
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    https://www.tax-brackets.org/newmexicotaxtable

    NM state income tax for a C/O is nearly 5%.

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