Staff and Clients Team Up at the Otero Facility to Protect Against COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Otero County Prison Facility is producing hundreds of face masks for the facility, medical personnel, and the community. Staff members came up with the idea and discussed a plan on how to make it happen.

“So, I thought it was a good idea to start making them here,” explains Nelly Mares, a records clerk at the facility. “We have inmates that are good with the tailoring. We have other inmates who are good with sewing. I thought it was a good idea to protect our families and the community out there because we cannot find them anywhere. Everybody pitched in with an idea. We had Mrs. Andrade bringing us elastic to start them up. We had the education [department] bringing us the material to start doing them. We had the inmates to start helping us sew them and put them together. We have Mr. Ramirez getting us samples.”

One of the residents who became involved with the project was inspired by how well the facility was taking safety precautions.

“I am one of the diabetics,” says Clayton Harrison, “I have to go to medical twice a day. Everyone is wearing their PPEs, their masks, their goggles, their gloves. They are taking precautions and keeping us advised you know, ‘keep washing our hands, stay healthy, try to wear your mask that you have.'” 

Starting out with just four residents involved, the scope of the project has become much larger. Besides the mass production of masks, the residents have designed and created face shields for medical staff.

“I feel really blessed to be doing this project,” says Ismael Andazola, “because the way I see it is if I can help somebody out there thinking that they are part of my family, then we all have to look out for each other. Regardless of what our crimes are or what we have done in our life, we are all here to help better ourselves and help the community in any way possible.”

Resident Harrison expresses his gratitude.

“I want to thank the facility for bringing this in and this project for us to do and for really treating us like humans. It’s nice. Thank you.”

About Otero County Prison Facility

Otero County Prison Facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association—
achieving 100% compliance for both mandatory and non-mandatory standards in
its most recent audit. Other accreditations and certifications include the Correctional
Education Association and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).