Albuquerque, NM – Inmates who refuse to remove body piercings could potentially be released from the Albuquerque Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), according to police union officials.
The MPD recently issued a directive to corrections officers, reminding them not to accept inmates unless their piercings have been removed, KOAT reported.
According to the directive, inmates are to remain in the custody of law enforcement officers until their piercings have been removed, and corrections staff cannot accept custody of them until that time.
“Do not accept inmates who have not removed their removable body piercing in Law Enforcement Area,” the directive from MDC Deputy Chief of Security Aaron Vigil read.
Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association President Shaun Willoughby said that the police aren’t about to start scuffling with inmates who don’t want to take out their piercings.
“What is the governmental interest for a police officer to use force on an individual simply because they don't want to take a body piercing out of their body?” Willoughby argued. “It has put an undue stress on policing and incarcerating individuals who need to be jailed.”
Willoughby said at least one inmate has already been released from custody due to the recent directive, although MDC said it is not aware of any such instances.
“I guarantee you that the word is on the street that, if you refuse to remove your piercings, they will release you from custody,” he added. “I think piercing shops in the city of Albuquerque are going to be very busy.”
MDC spokeswoman Candace Hopkins said that the directive was nothing more than a reminder of a policy that was already in place.
She added that the detention facility is willing to discuss the directive with law enforcement agency leaders.
"MDC does not want to see anyone released from any agency's custody for something like body jewelry,” Hopkins said. “We obviously can work out a compromise and we have supervisors on staff that can work something out with the law enforcement agency."
The Albuquerque Police Department has already contacted Bernalillo County leaders to try to identify a way to handle the situation.