New Mexico prisons cut visiting hours due to staff shortage

SANTA FE (AP) – State officials say they are cutting visiting hours at New Mexico prisons as the Corrections Department continues to grapple with low staffing levels.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the department has instituted a weeklong ban on visitors to prisons to cut back on officers’ workloads. A spokeswoman says the department will likely impose the ban once a month until more guards are hired.

Officials say low pay – with starting wages of $13.65 an hour – has made hiring and keeping guards a challenge at state-run prisons. Nearly half of the positions at a prison in Roswell are vacant because of low staff salaries.

Cabinet Secretary Gregg Marcantel has asked the Legislature to increase the department’s budget by 5 percent, much of which would go toward raises.

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