Tensions high as budget prompts cuts at Nevada prisons

Prisoners are Humans too!

From: Las Vegas Sun

By Cy Ryan
Thursday, April 29, 2010

CARSON CITY – To make budget cuts, Nevada prisons have removed staff from visiting towers and cut back on training, said Howard Skolnik, director of the state Department of Corrections. He told the Legislative Interim Finance Committee tensions are growing at the High Desert Correctional Center at Indian Springs.

Despite the reductions, Deputy Director Jeff Mohlenkamp said the prison system would end up $2 million to $2.5 million short of money in its budget at the end of this fiscal year.

Mohlenkamp said the prison has been in the hole in past year, sometimes by as much as $3.5 million. He said the cutbacks this year mean the shortfall is less.

He said there is $1 million less coming in from inmates working at jobs in the community because there are few jobs in the sluggish economy. And there were fewer forest fires last year, meaning less revenue from the inmate work force.

The prison system was hit with a $500,000 stale claim it had to pay, Mohlenkamp said.

Assemblywoman Kathy McClain, D-Las Vegas, questioned why the prison didn’t go to 12-hour shifts, which would save money and reduce overtime. Skolnik replied, “Twelve won’t help us.” A study showed the prison wouldn’t save money by converting from eight- to 12-hour shifts, the director said.

“We have really shut down overtime,” Skolnik said. It is used only in life-threatening emergencies, he said.

Asked about the Southern Nevada Correctional Center near Las Vegas, Skolnik said negotiations are underway for California to use it.

He said he wants to keep the prison as a “safety valve” in case Nevada’s inmate population spikes. Correctional experts are predicting the number of inmates to grow one-half of 1 percent each year over the next five to 10 years.

Read mor ehere: Las Vegas Sun

From: Las Vegas Review Journal:

Apr. 29, 2010
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Corrections chief says furloughs could spur violence in state prisons

CARSON CITY — Department of Corrections Director Howard Skolnik warned legislators Thursday that violence could break out in state prisons starting in July, when he will have fewer correctional officers on duty because of mandatory furloughs.

“We are sitting on a powder keg the way things are going,” Skolnik told the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee. “I just can’t tell you when the fuse will be lit.”

Skolnik said two unprovoked attacks on correctional officers have occurred in recent weeks at Southern Desert Correctional Center in Indian Springs, where staff was limited. He had refused to authorize overtime because of the state’s budget shortfall. The unprovoked attacks were the first he could remember.

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