Until the latter part of 1984, the detention center occupied the second and third floors of the Lea County courthouse and was a division of the Lea County Sheriff’s Department.
On December 8, 1984, the old jail was closed in the courthouse and the three-story building was opened across the street from the courthouse. Also, at that time, the overall administration and supervision of the Detention Center was relinquished by the Sheriff’s Department and transferred to the Lea County Board of Commissioners.
On November 25, 2003 we broke ground on our new Detention Center located at 1401 S. Commercial. This building is designed to house 400 adult inmates and 32 juvenile inmates with the appropriate infrastructure to increase the adult housing to 500. There is a combination of direct and indirect supervision pods with a strong emphasis on programming. The design also included a borrowed light concept which uses natural light to flood dayrooms and deliver filtered light to cells and other locations in the building. This design uses the common sense notion that abundant natural light is essential for modern jail operations. Another design concept in the new building is an exterior mechanical chase which allows maintenance staff to maintain mechanical systems through an exterior access without entering inmate areas. This also serves as a second perimeter wall which increases security of the Detention Center. The double outside walls also provide for a positive economical effect to the heating and cooling systems.
The medical unit contains an outpatient clinic and eight inpatient beds. Medical staff is on duty around the clock.
The design on the juvenile portion of the building includes a classroom with a computer lab, open air recreation yards and a library. We have a large community room that is available year around for community groups to schedule meetings.
On October 5, 2005, we moved into the new Detention Center. Our population average is about 300 adult inmates and 10 juvenile inmates. Of that daily average, there are over 90 adult federal inmates.