Pictured: Capt. Noel Benavides has been named the Jim Wells County jail administrator. Photo by MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Replaces Major Miller, who recently resigned

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Capt. Noel Benavides was appointed to the position of Jim Wells County jail administrator last week, after the resignation of former administrator Maj. Richard Miller.

Benavides has been employed at the jail for two years, and has more than 13 years of previous management experience in the waste management industry in the Rio Grande Valley.

He will work alongside Capt. Sandra Salas, who will continue in her position as administrator for jail transportation and department communications.

Benavides, 35, spent 13 years working as operations and district manager with Waste Management at its offices in both Corpus Christi and the Valley region.

After two-and-a-half years of commuting between the Valley and the Coastal Bend area, Benavides decided a change was needed, for himself and his family.

Benavides is the first to admit the jail environment is a big departure from his time in the business world, but he has taken well to the new challenges, he said.

Over the last two years, Benavides has risen through the ranks of the jail, gained his TECLOSE Correctional Officer Certification, and has taken several training courses at the Jail Management School.

Benavides will attend another course at the end of August.

"I've been able to apply a lot of my previous management experience in the jail," Benavides said. "I learned a lot under Capt. Salas and Maj. Miller. I was given opportunities to prioritize duties and had some input in the decision-making process."

He said the position is a challenge because of the difficulties involved with meeting the day-to-day needs of the inmates.

When it comes to feeding, passing out indigent supplies, managing the correctional officers and listening to inmate concerns, Benavides said it isn't a job just anyone can handle.

"You always have to keep on top of the paperwork. Proper documentation of everything at the jail is necessary, and it is very time consuming," Benavides said.

As an administrator, Benavides uses a hands-on approach, walking the jail frequently to check on officers and inmates.

He said the jail has good correctional officers, and they are the first when dealing with the inmates.

He said it is important to keep the lines of communication open, and as an administrator, he is always open to inmates' concerns, as they're passed along the chain of command in the jail.