State Education Audit Shows the Otero County Prison Facility is Changing Lives

“I already am a better person than when I got here—I have no doubt about that,” says George Tice who’s incarcerated at MTC’s Otero County Prison Facility in Chaparral, New Mexico. George has taken advantage of many programs at the prison, and it’s making a difference.

“And so,” he adds, “instance after instance of different programs to help change the way that I think. And it is helping my life. It’s changing my life here and also on the outside.”

That’s the facility’s goal and MTC’s goal—to help incarcerated men and women change; to give them the tools they need to be successful in society.

Roger Atencio, who’s also incarcerated at the prison, understands the value of rehabilitation programs.

“If I don’t take this opportunity now,” he emphasized “I could end up, easily, back in prison; if I don’t change the way that I think and that I approach things.”

Every year the state of New Mexico closely evaluates all their facilities to make sure their programs are effective in keeping people out of prison.

And for the Otero County Prison Facility—the 2018 results were outstanding. The state gave the facility an overall rating of 98 percent or highly effective, placing them in first place in the entire state.

During a recent event at the Otero prison honoring correctional workers, the New Mexico Secretary of the Corrections Department praised MTC for its commitment to rehabilitation.

“This facility, I think, is the best facility in the country,” says Secretary David Jablonski. “You look at the model that you have here. I think the state, New Mexico, we want to achieve what you guys do here.”

Take a closer look at the state audit results by category:

For their college programs—96% effective

Career and technical education—100%

Special education—93%

Literacy, Adult, and Community Education System (LACES)—99.5%

Cognitive and re-entry programs—100%

And in other areas that had to do with filing and reporting procedures—nearly 100%

“It’s amazing, with your audits,” says Secretary Jablonski. “The morale is incredible here with the staff. It’s reflective of the vacancies—very low vacancies. The programming here is above board. I can’t say enough about this facility. I wish I could duplicate it.”

MTC Senior Vice President of Corrections also praised the Otero staff.

“There is really no better recognition than to look at the performance of what happens at Otero and how well it operates given the complexity of the facility. MTC is about running safe, humane facilities but also having a social impact and making a difference in people’s life.”

“Rehabilitation is important while we are in prison,” adds Roger Atencio. “And I see there’s a big focus on rehabilitation inside these classrooms, inside these programs. And it’s well needed.”

The men have seen great improvements in their own lives. They say good programs and dedicated staff…like Elizabeth Jones make all the difference.

“I’ve been working for Ms. Jones several years here, and Ms. Jones goes way out of her way to help inmates. And when you talk to people that work for the different departments in education, you’ll find everybody saying the same thing, ‘Wow, they really do go out of their way. It’s not just a job for them.’”