Last inmates to leave Nevada State Prison next month

Thank you to and FFIP for alerting us to this news item:

From: LVRJ

Dec 6, 2011

CARSON CITY — The aging Nevada State Prison will be emptied of its last 140 inmates and 73 staff members on Jan. 9, nearly three months before the closure date authorized by legislators, the state’s top prison official said Monday.

Corrections Director Greg Cox told the state Board of Prison Commissioners that he has followed the intent of the legislators who were concerned about prison workers losing their jobs unnecessarily. He said jobs will be found in other prisons for most staff members who want them.

Cox said some employees who refuse to relocate to a prison 100 miles away in Lovelock will be laid off, but they will be eligible for jobs when there are openings in Carson City.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, chairman of the prisons board, told Cox to prepare a written report on his closure plan and submit it to legislators and the commissioners.

Sandoval and fellow Prison Commissioners Ross Miller, the secretary of state, and Catherine Cortez Masto, the attorney general, asked why they had not been told earlier of Cox’s plan closing the prison before they expected. They did not, however, block the move.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, insisted in May that the prison remain open until April 1 so that jobs could be found for staff members in other prisons. Sandoval had proposed closing it Oct. 1 of this year but couldn’t get the support to do so. Horsford did not respond for comment Monday.

“The intent of the Legislature as I understand it was to reduce layoffs in the Carson (City) area and reduce the likelihood that staff would have to relocate in other areas of the state,” Cox said after the meeting.

He said the Corrections Department ran up $2.5 million in unbudgeted overtime costs in July through September. That was blamed on other prisons not having a sufficient number of corrections officers while the Nevada State Prison had more than it needed to care for its declining inmate population.

After officers are transferred from Nevada State Prison to other prisons, the overtime costs should drop, he said.

Cox will be required to justify the overtime and seek emergency funds from the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee, which meets Dec. 15.

The 144-year-old prison held 700 inmates earlier this year when the Legislature approved its closure as a cost savings measure. They estimated the closure would save $15 million. Repeated attempts by former Gov. Jim Gibbons to close the prison had been blocked by legislators.

Most inmates have been or will be moved to new wings in the High Desert State Prison near Indian Springs, about 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas. It costs $14,000 a year to keep an inmate there, compared with $23,000 at Carson City .

Cox said jobs already have been found for most prison workers at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center and conservation camps in the Carson City area.

Sixteen guards agreed to take jobs at the Lovelock State Prison. Thirteen others can take jobs there but have refused, a step allowed by regulations because of the long distance from their current jobs.

Cox could not estimate the total number of layoffs after the Jan. 9 closure.

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