Jail report outlines changes after riot

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 28 riot at San Juan County Adult Detention Center outlined potential changes in a report released late last week.

The report, made public on Thursday, recommends a review of procedures related to response calls, the development of a multi-agency plan to respond to future emergencies and the removal of commissary items used to store jailhouse liquor, or "hooch."

Jail Administrator Tom Havel said Thursday that the jail would no longer sell 20-ounce sodas in the commissary as a result of the committee's findings.

He said previously that inmates would combine drink flavoring, fruit and bread in the soda bottles and allow the ingredients to ferment over several days, creating an alcoholic beverage.

According to the incident report, several empty soda bottles were found in the B8 jail pod after the alcohol-fueled riot, which left one guard injured and resulted in criminal charges being filed against four inmates.

One 20-ounce bottle containing a "brown liquid" determined to be hootch was also found in the pod search, the incident report states.

Havel said that new procedures will also make it more difficult for inmates to abuse medication provided by health staff.

An investigation into the incident by the San Juan County Sheriff's Office revealed that four inmates were snorting Wellbutrin, an anti-depressant medication, on the night of the riot.

Havel said that in the future medication provided by health staff will be ground up, so that inmates cannot pretend to swallow a pill or swallow it and later regurgitate it outside of the guards' sight.

Inmates who require medication that cannot be ground up, which includes Wellbutrin, will swallow the pill and sit for 10 minutes in sight of the guards while it dissolves.

Deputy Administrator Daniel Webb led the committee responsible for reviewing the incident.

"Everything, operationally, went pretty well," he said.

Havel said Webb met this week with officials from the Sheriff's Office to discuss plans to coordinate emergency responses at the jail.

The report also states that six inmates at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center were sanctioned as a result of the riot.

The inmates — Christopher Yarnell, Bryan Holliday, Leroy Miller, Michael Cordova, William Martinez and Daniel Lowe — were reprimanded for failing to follow instructions, Havel said.

According to the sheriff's report, Holliday and Martinez were suspected of being the primary instigators of the riot and Yarnell served as a spokesman for inmates who refused to obey orders.

Havel said punishments for the inmates ranged from 30 to 60 days of lockdown to limits on commissary privileges.

As previously reported, the four inmates that actively fought guards face felony charges.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.