The New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) Central New Mexico Correctional Facility (CNMCF) lost American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation from 2016 to January 14, 2019. This is remarkable considering the makeup of the ACA’s Executive Committee and Board of Governors.
ACA’s Executive Committee current membership is made up entirely of correctional professionals that have spent their professional lives working in corrections. The ACA Board of Governors is no different. Viewing the candidates for the 2018 ACA Board of Governors Election, their resumes are entirely weighted with work in corrections, correctional facilities and law enforcement. Is it any wonder that the current state of the U.S. correctional system along with its prisons and jails has deteriorated over time to its current sad and abhorrent state?
In short, getting ACA accreditation is a cake-walk for all but the most flawed correctional facilities. Then comes CNMCF which lost ACA accreditation from 2016 to 2019.
How Bad Does a Prison Have to be to Lose ACA Accreditation?
One might guess it has to be very bad. It is not clear yet why CNMCF lost its accreditation for 2016 to 2019. Rest assured, Collins & Collins, P.C. is working on answers to that question. However, CNMCF was able to gain re-accreditation on January 14, 2019 following some horrifying incidents that occurred with inmates while in the custody of CNMCF.
Collins & Collins, P.C. alone has filed multiple lawsuits involving extreme, wanton, willful and deliberate denial of basic medical care to inmates while in the custody of CNMCF. While other firms have filed suits involving equally horrendous NMCD behavior, the focus here is on the suits filed by Collins & Collins, P.C. and co-counsel.
These cases involve 2 suicide deaths that occurred within hours of each other at CNMCF. They include another death at CNMCF resulting from an infection that due to gross negligence, incompetence and willful neglect of medical needs led to spinal sepsis, quadriplegia, coma and ultimate death. There are other cases that did not result in death but resulted in catastrophic and permanent injuries to inmates as a result of deliberate and malicious neglect of medical care.
Yet, CNMCF was able to gain re-accreditation on January 14, 2019 just 34 days after the 2 suicides and while the lawsuit was pending on the spinal sepsis case.
NMCD Misrepresents ACA Accreditation in Multiple Ways
Administrators from NMCD have misled the legislature, apparently the new Governor and the public regarding its ACA accreditation. They have stood in legislative hearings suggesting that there has been no lapse in ACA accreditation at its facilities. They have apparently done the same Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as evidenced by a recent article in the Santa Fe New Mexican. But perhaps most damaging to the State, its citizens and most of all NMCD inmates, they have suggested that ACA accreditation is some monumental accomplishment when it is really just a rubber stamp of approval given by the aforementioned correctional and law enforcement professionals inhabiting the American Correctional Association’s executive committee and board of governors.
ACA v. National Commission on Correctional Health Care
ACA v. National Commission on Correctional Health Care
Given the current situation of the medical care provided NMCD inmates particularly CNMCF for purposes of this discussion, it would seem that there is little ACA emphasis if any on constitutionally minimum levels of healthcare for NMCD inmates. This is vastly contrary to NMCD administration officials representations that the ACA has strict medical standards.
NMCD officials have in legislative hearings wrongly asserted, whether intentional or out of ignorance, that the ACA’s medical standards are more stringent than those of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). A cynic might argue that these misleading statements derive from the fact that NMCD facilities have been unable to obtain NCCHC accreditation since 2015, at the latest. In fact, NMCD has decided that it will no longer seek NCCHC accreditation. Upon the discovery of this by Collins & Collins, P.C. and pointing out that NCCHC standards are misleadingly peppered all over the NMCD website along with its policies and procedures, NMCD explained that the NCCHC mentions on their website was an oversight and that all references would be removed.
Aside from the fact that there remain NCCHC references on the NMCD site, is this a solution or the seeds for a disaster? This question is of course rhetorical only. Collins & Collins, P.C.’s cases alone illustrate the fact that indeed it has planted the seeds for disaster with tacit encouragement of the rampant medical malpractice taking place in New Mexico prisons. NMCD’s complete abrogation of its duties to provide constitutionally adequate healthcare to inmates has been slow moving decades long disaster costing the health and lives of inmates, great financial losses to New Mexico from verdicts and settlements, extraordinary and unnecessary burdens on New Mexico’s Medicaid programs, and if its that’s not enough the disgrace that it causes New Mexico.
So Again How Does CNMCF Lose ACA Accreditation?
This remains to be seen as this is not information that NMCD will freely reveal. Discovery is ongoing in the many cases filed by Collins & Collins, P.C. and co-counsel. The answers to this question will be perhaps quite illuminating into the hearts and minds of NMCD administrators.