RGC Sheriff Robinson gives update to commissioners

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County Sheriff Anne Robinson gave an update to commissioners on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Robinson began by stating that a company came to inspect the roof of the jail and that she gave specific instructions to the inspector that she wanted to see the problem mitigated, rather than just having a basic repair job done.

The Rio Grande County Jail has been in various stages of disrepair for the last couple of years and though the county is looking into possible funding to build a new facility, the prospect of a new jail is a long way from becoming a reality.

“I did express to the inspector that I would rather mitigate the problem than just put a Band-Aid on it and have it happen again and cost more money,” said Robinson.

Robinson said that she was waiting for a reply from the company and would be following up with commissioners soon.

Robinson continued her report stating that recently the department was presented with an opportunity to provide nicotine pouches to inmates that want to stop smoking and that the pouches arrived just a few days ago.

Robinson addressed some concerns with county Attorney Nancy Lake to make sure that by introducing the pouches to inmates they were not violating any regulations and because the pouches did not contain any nicotine, it was within regulations to provide them.

“These are not tobacco products because that would be an illegal introduction to the facility by law. I asked the attorney to research if the pouches were not included in the tobacco form. I think we are good because they exclude vape pens. This is going to be an income for us as they will be sold through commissary,” said Robinson.

Robinson added that the inmates that wish to participate in using the pouches will have to sign an agreement or contract when they come in that they will not give them to anyone else because anyone under the age of 21 cannot by law have possession of the product.

“If this becomes a problem, we will just pull the product because it is a privilege not a right,” she said.

Rio Grande Commissioner John Noffsker voiced concern about making sure that the pouches do not fall into the hands of inmates under the age of 21. Robinson said that anyone caught doing so would result in the entire pod losing the privilege to have access to the product.

The Rio Grande County Sheriff Office would be the first office in the state to initiate the program.

On another topic, Robinson said that there were some inmates that were artistically talented, and she has explored providing “art kits”.

“We call them art kits, but I am looking at more child safe products and one of those things being chalk,” she said. “I told some of the inmates that I would give them a wall if they wanted to put up a mural with chalk, washable chalk. It can’t be anything offensive, but I want them to create a brighter space. I want them to be constructive instead of destructive. We will see how it goes.”

Robinson said that though they may or may not have done something wrong to get into jail and that they are there for a reason, inmates are still people.

“I have also gotten them new books; we are trying to introduce some things that will keep them occupied and productive,” she said.