The San Miguel County jail will soon begin allowing visits in which children will have direct contract with their jailed parents.
But only some parents will benefit from this program, officials say.
Patrick Snedeker, warden for the San Miguel County Detention Center, said this week that two counties — Bernalillo and San Miguel — were chosen for a pilot program exploring different ways to preserve the family structure when parents are in jail.
Direct contact between parents and children is a part of that program, but Snedeker said the jail will closely screen which inmates take part. For instance, most inmates accused of violent crimes won’t be allowed contact visits.
Usually, inmates talk to their visitors through telephones while facing one another through windows.
Snedeker said the pilot program is the result of a blue-ribbon commission formed by Gov. Bill Richardson whose mission was to look out for the welfare of the children of jailed parents.
“We’re focusing on the children and keeping the family unit intact,” he said. “We’re going one step at a time, and we’re all learning and finding out what works. We have some community providers who are helping us.”
The program also includes finding caregivers for children, teaching of parenting skills and counseling for those suffering from chemical dependencies, Snedeker said.
The program started in December, and contact visits are expected to begin in February after employees undergo training, he said.