A group of 14 men transported to the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County in 2020 allege they were terrorized, sexually humiliated and forced to endure violence. The former inmates are suing former CNMCF assistant warden Joe Lytle and eight other corrections officers who were allegedly present or participated in the incident. Eric Harrison, public information officer for the state Correction Department, said that the department cannot comment on “the specific allegations due to active litigation.”
“Please know that NMCD is committed to the safety of all inmates within our care and we maintain a zero tolerance policy regarding any and all forms of sexual abuse and sexual harassment,” he wrote in a statement. Harrison also said the department will be “investigating the allegations thoroughly and will take action to make certain that any staff involved in any kind of abusive or inappropriate behavior are held accountable to the highest level.”
Lytle was involved in a similar lawsuit against him and others working for the department in 2011. That civil case, which led to a $750,000 settlement, involved Lytle forcing men at the Los Lunas facility to sit naked “nuts to butts” in a row for hours.
A lawsuit from a Valencia County man says his civil rights were violated when a group of Valencia County Jail employees beat him with excessive force in March. The man, Marvin Silva, received level two trauma care at University of New Mexico Hospital due to his injuries, according to the complaint and a copy of Silva’s medical records. He suffered a collapsed lung, a lacerated spleen and a fractured rib, his medical records state. According to the complaint, a Valencia County Jail employee took Silva into a holding cell with no security cameras and asked him to undress as part of his intake into the jail. Silva was wearing a mask, which he kept on but otherwise undressed as ordered, the complaint states.
A former inmate is suing the New Mexico Corrections Department and some of its employees for allegedly endangering the man’s life while transporting him and others in an unair-conditioned vehicle in 2019. Lawrence Lamb, 61, filed the suit last week in Santa Fe state district court. The suit alleges that on June 21, 2019 Corrections Department officers loaded him and seven other inmates into a transport van to carry them 300 miles from the Los Lunas-based Central New Mexico Correctional Facility to the Clayton-based Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility. Due to a high-rate of speed, sometimes as much as 90 miles an hour, the rear passenger tire blew out and a metal object blew through the plywood floor and struck Lamb in the leg, the complaint states. Lamb’s lawyer, Steven Allen, the director of New Mexico Prison and Jail Project, said getting hit with a bolt was “the least of his concerns” after what allegedly came next.
A proposal to allow retired law enforcement officers across the state to return to their old jobs cleared the House floor Wednesday evening after a three-hour debate. The House passed the bill on a 38-29 vote, with five Democrats joining all Republicans present for the vote. Sponsor Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, argued that it would solve staffing problems at police departments across the state. He emphasized that several county sheriffs across the state support the legislation, not just the city of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Police Department. Still, he had Albuquerque City Attorney Jessica Hernandez as his expert witness.