Don Burdine currently serves as administrator for the Curry County Adult Detention Center.
Q: How long have you served as the county jail administrator?
A: I’ve been here this time since Oct. 7, but I also served here from 1995-98.
Q: What kind of background do you have, and how has that helped in your present position?
A: I started working as a detention officer for Curry County in the 1980s. I was promoted from that position to deputy sheriff and served in that position until 1993, when I was appointed chief deputy by Sheriff Mike Jackson. At that time, the detention center was under the sheriff’s department, so supervision of the detention center was part of my responsibility. From there, I took the position as administrator.
Q: What do you like best about your job?
A: I don’t know if there is a best part to this job. Most of the people you deal with are having the worst day of their lives. But I enjoy the people I work with on the staff here. They do a thankless job for little pay.
Q: What do you consider to be the job’s greatest challenges?
A: That’s an endless list. Balancing available resources against demands. Staffing is a little better than in the past, but we’re averaging one officer per 40 inmates, which is not ideal.
Q: What about overcrowding — is that an issue?
A: Oh yes. Terrible issue. We’re spending approximately $20,000 a month to house prisoners out of county.
Q: Are some of those prisoners state or federal prisoners?
A: Not federal, but depending on your definition of state prisoner, some could be considered as state prisoners.
Q: You don’t get any money for housing those prisoners?
A: No. That’s our burden on the county.
Q: What is the procedure for mental or detox protective custody in terms of length of stay or supervision required?
A: There’s a state statute that allows for mental protective custody for 24 hours while arrangements are being made for evaluation and treatment. We have extended that stay at times although the state statute doesn’t allow for that. But our choice sometimes comes down to letting a person who is a danger to himself or others or to extend that stay a little to get something done. A personal protective custody can be placed on a documented watch as frequent as every four minutes or in mild cases every 30 minutes.
Q: How would you rate the facilities there?
A: I think it’s a good facility. As with any facility, there are things you wish you could change. My biggest problem is I wish we had more single cells to better classify the population.
— Compiled by CNJ Senior Writer Gary Mitchell