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  • mcprison mcprison Dec 18, 2001 7:58 PM Flag

    Good press in NM, pt1

    The Santa Fe New Mexican

    December 17, 2001, Monday

    SECTION: Main; Pg. A-1

    LENGTH: 802 words

    HEADLINE: Inmates, families share holiday meal

    BYLINE: MARISSA STONE, photo by Kathy De La Torre


    However, some young offenders find little solace while incarcerated during
    this time year

    Tim Oakes sat at a long, red table, slowly eating yellow rice, carne adovada
    and corn. He spoke with wisdom well beyond his 20 years.

    Although Oakes is in jail, and alone for the holidays -- whereas some other
    inmates can see their families -- he has hope for the future, he said.

    Oakes -- under corrections policy, real names of inmates cannot be used -- a
    native of Waipahu, Hawaii, has been at the Santa Fe County Youth Development
    Program on Airport Road for almost three years.

    He and about 80 other inmates there gathered Sunday for a holiday luncheon
    with family members.

    The jail houses two groups of inmates between ages 12 and 21: federal inmates
    from throughout the United States who stay between a year and five years, and
    detainees from Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties incarcerated before
    sentencing. They stay between two weeks and a month, said Melissa Padilla,
    facility director.

    Only a handful of females live at the maximum-security jail, run by Cornell
    Corrections, she said.

    The prisoners' crimes range from murder to drug smuggling, said Chris
    Martinez, program director.

    Six holding areas contain 8-foot by 15-foot cells at the jail, which can hold
    a maximum of 129 prisoners, Padilla said.

    During Thanksgiving and around the Christmas holidays, inmates are allowed to
    share meals with their families at jail gatherings, Martinez said. About 180
    family members were there on Sunday.

    Oakes said he and the other inmates prepared the decorations for the event
    Sunday inside the one of the rooms used as a cafeteria.

    Careful attention had been paid to the decorations, from small, paper candy
    canes taped to silver napkin holders to an ornate 2-foot fireplace made from
    construction paper with yellow, orange and red flames. A real Christmas tree was
    decked with white-, green- and red-paper decorations while confetti, cut from
    white paper bags, dotted the red tablecloths.

    While many families seemed happy to see each other, there was a sense of
    sadness in the room.

    Standing in a long line to serve themselves, the five-member Gomez family
    stood along a wall. (The family also asked that their real names not be used.)

    "It's terrible to have a child away from you for so long," said Louraine
    Gomez, whose son, Mark, has been at the facility for eight months. He has three
    more months to serve.

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