Antonio DeVargas and Susan Schmitt presented to the Santa Fe County Manager’s office March 25 their petition for a grand jury inquiry into deaths at the Santa Fe County Jail. Each has a child that died in the jail.
Carmela DeVargas and Rex Corcoran Jr. died within four days of each other.
DeVargas said that their original complaint was intended through the state First District Court but will now be going through the federal court.
The petition demands that the Santa Fe County jail implement a Medical Assisted Treatment Program for inmates suffering from substance abuse issues. The Program is used in Bernalillo County and is backed by the National Sheriff’s Association and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
The petition also demands that the head of public safety Pablo Sedillo III, Warden Derek Williams, Dr. Melquiades Olivares, Lt. Rokoas and Captain Rios, who’s first names are not in the complaint, be terminated.
Santa Fe Deputy County Manager Elias Bernardino was there to accept the petition and offered condolences to the families.
DeVargas pleaded to the commission to take action on the jail before the grand jury was impaneled.
“I hope the Commission will look into their soul, the people who die in jail are not hardened criminals, they’re people who are sick, they shouldn’t even be in there,” DeVargas said. “People like Carmella they should be in a recovery center not a jail”
DeVargas said he was interested in getting justice.
“There’s a few people who settled and got a few hundred thousand, I’m not settling unless I get some change in that (expletive) jail,” DeVargas said.
DeVargas also said he wanted to see changes for his grandson’s sake.
“He needs to know what they did to his mom was dealt with so he can grow past it and let it go, so he doesn’t have to be angry,” DeVargas said.
DeVargas said they had a hard time collecting enough signatures for the petition to impanel a grand jury due to the pandemic, and most of the signatures collected were from February 2020, however, with the state opening up he expects to get the last few they need.
Schmitt during the press conference also spoke in support of House Bill 4, the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, which passed both houses of the state legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
The pair were set to speak Tuesday at the Santa Fe County Commission meeting.