Prison chief: seven staff members accused of felonies

Las Vegas Sun:

By Cy Ryan
Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 | 3:31 p.m.

CARSON CITY – Inmates in the Nevada state prison system aren’t the only ones who have had brushes with the law.

There have been seven felony arrests of prison staff in recent months. One of the officers was charged with armed robbery and attempted assault on a law enforcement officer. That alleged offense occurred in Nye County.

Howard Skolnik, director of the state Department of Corrections, said he has a “serious problem” in Clark County where 29 correctional officers have been terminated. He said these were both probation and full-time officers.
“There’s 180,000 hours worth of training going out the window,” Skolnik told a Thursday meeting of the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice. “There are weaknesses in doing our background checks.”

The commission, at its first meeting since the Legislature, elected Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, as chairman succeeding Chief Justice James Hardesty. Horne said one of the priorities of the commission this time will be victims’ rights.
The commission re-elected Attorney General Catherine Masto as chairwoman of the subcommittee on victims of crime, and Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, as selected chairman of the subcommittee on Juvenile Justice.

Skolnik told the commission there was a “pattern” of inmates who are released from the prison in Susanville, Calif., ending up in Reno. He said some of those freed from prison in Los Angeles will travel to Las Vegas.

“I suspect they will have an impact on us,” he said.

But Bernard Curtis, chief of the state Division of Parole and Probation, said Nevada transports several hundred more out of state than Nevada receives from other states.
Skolnik told the commission that the prison system is about 300 inmates below what was budgeted.

He said he hopes to know within 90 days about plans to lease the closed-down Southern Nevada Correctional Center in Clark County to a firm called Geo for $2.5 million a year.

He said Geo wants to do some cosmetic and upgrades but he wants to make sure the state can take back the prison within 180 days if there is a major increase in the number of inmates.

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Geo is a private prisons contractor. The Southern Nevada Correctional Center will be leased to a private prisons company. Is this the second private prison to open in Nevada?

Also note the 180,000 dollars to pay for training hours of 29 officers…

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