ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The Metropolitan Detention Center is changing their protocol after someone tried to sell an inmate jumpsuit online.
MDC officials are still trying to figure out why and how an employee or an inmate was able to make off with an MDC jumpsuit. Each one is worth about $50 and paid for with taxpayer money.
“Somebody called and said, do you know you have a uniform on sale? They indicated no and we went to the site and there was the uniform.”
After the initial surprise wore off, Bernalillo Deputy Public Safety Manager Tom Swisstack was set to figure out why and how an MDC jumpsuit made it out of MDC and onto the Internet.
“You don’t expect jumpsuits to be online. What you hope is that, when people get out of here, they want to leave that past behind them,” Swisstack said.
Swisstack says, not only does this mean someone’s made off with taxpayer dollars, he says it can also mean a black eye for the detention center, especially if someone gets into trouble while wearing one.
“It’s a symbol, it’s a display and a representation of the Metropolitan Detention Center, and by making sure we have our clothing back, minimizes any kind of negativity that we would encounter out there because somebody’s wearing it,” explains Swisstack.
Swisstack says having jumpsuits on the street could be bad news for police, too. But APD says they’re likely to know whether someone’s an escaped convict or or sporting the suits for fashion.
“It could be grounds for us to at least stop and contact you in a consensual contact type of way so, if you’re going to wear that, you might want to be expecting to be contacted by police,” said APD Officer Tanner Tixier.
Regardless, it has made MDC change their system.
Protocol used to allow inmates who were being released to change behind a white curtain. They were responsible for putting all of their MDC items into bins behind those curtains. But now, that’s changed.
“Those bins were removed and then we had the releasing officer then start to sign and initial that he or she has received all the items that the inmate once had in their possession now have been returned to the institution,” Swisstack says.
From there, a supervisor must give the final approval.
“We have an initial check and then a quality assurance check to make sure items are returned,” says Swisstack.
Swisstack hopes these minor changes will ensure this doesn’t happen again.
“It’s not often that we see a uniform for sale in the public and I’m hoping that we don’t see that again,” Swisstack says.
Swisstack adds there are two sides to this story and, while someone did take a piece of MDC property, he says you have to consider the situation they must be in to then turn around and try to sell it online for money.
Swisstack says it would be up to the sheriff to file charges for misdemeanor theft. He says, MDC could change the rules to make it against policy for employees to take them but says, when it comes to inmates, the most MDC can do is charge them for the uniform.
“There has to be some consequences for your actions. We’re not looking to incarcerate people, we’re just asking return the items and if you don’t return the items because we miss it. Hopefully, we will not do that anymore in the future because of the new system then you should be held financially responsible for it. If that means going to civil court to collect, yes, if we can make sure that was the right person,” explains Swisstack.
APD says they haven’t had any calls to date to check out someone wearing an orange jumpsuit.