Report: Nevada prisons have sufficient space for inmates

CARSON CITY — The state prisons population has not shown much growth even though crime is on the rise in Clark County, the corrections director told members of the state Board of Prison Commissioners on Tuesday.

Corrections Director Greg Cox said there might be inmate population growth coming, but there is sufficient space to hold all additional inmates.

Cox released information during the meeting that shows the Corrections Department is budgeted for 12,667 inmates this year and for 12,714 in the 2014-15 fiscal year. Total prison expenditures are $275.1 million this year, up 1.34 percent.

But he noted that per inmate costs are $19,907 a year, which he said was “on the low side.” California inmates costs are $24,000 per inmate, he added. Nevada inmates are allotted just $2.54 per day for food, with the same menu used at all prisons.

The discussion on the prison population came during a meeting in which board members approved many regulations, including one that forbids prisons from using restraints on pregnant women in labor or while giving birth. During their pregnancies, restraints can be used on these women only if they are a danger to themselves or others.

During the meeting, board members also agreed to allow the Corrections Department to build recreational vehicle parks at the Humboldt Conservation Camp near Winnemucca and the Carlin Conservation Camp. Because of the boom in the mining industry, prison workers cannot find affordable housing in the two towns.

“A lot of people want to work (in the conservation camps), but they have no place to live,” said E.K. McDaniel, deputy director for prison operations.

He told told Gov. Brian Sandoval and other commissioners that 12 correctional officer positions are authorized for each camp, but both have four vacancies because of the lack of housing.

But to live in the recreational space, workers must provide their own RVs and agree to not use alcohol or have any guests. The parks will be about 100 yards from the correctional facilities. There will be a two-year limitation on living in such parks.

“We have not done this before,” Cox said. “I anticipate doing it at other rural locations if it works.”

Members also approved a plan that would require businesses that want to use prison labor first to study whether the use of lower-paid inmate workers would have a detrimental effect on private businesses doing the same kind of work.

Prison workers also have been making clothing with 150th anniversary of Nevada statehood designs. Sandoval said the clothing is nice and he wants Prison Industries to try to sell in Walmart and other retail stores, along with state museums across the state.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com, or at 775-687-3901.