North Las Vegas officials seem to have worked out kinks in a plan to cut costs by merging the city’s jail with Las Vegas’.
When the jail closed in July and inmates were moved to the Las Vegas facility, at Stewart Avenue and Mojave Road, some North Las Vegas Justice Court officials publicly criticized the plan as being rushed by city leaders to resolve financial problems. They also said the plan violated inmates’ rights and put public safety at risk.
At the time, court officials made allegations that errors with booking information and paperwork had some inmates staying longer than they should and others released too early.
“Honestly, things are better,” Justice Court Chief Judge Natalie Tyrrell said. “I’m happy because it was extremely frustrating.”
Also resolved are issues with people being booked or held without the court’s knowledge, Tyrrell added.
Sgt. Tim Bedwell, North Las Vegas police spokesman, said the greatest challenge was integrating technology between the two agencies but stopped short of validating complaints about civil rights violations.
“I think some of those civil rights issues were opinion,” Bedwell said. “I don’t know that we’re conceding that any person’s rights were violated. There were some time frames longer than what we wanted them to be.”
Chief Joseph Chronister investigated complaints brought forward and determined in some instances there was incorrect information. At the time, he said the jail closure was not ideal but assured that public safety had not been diminished.
The police chiefs, city managers and administrative staff from both cities expect to meet later this month to discuss the merger.
North Las Vegas is paying Las Vegas to house up to 315 inmates, $25 a day for each male inmate and $110 for each female inmate. The per-inmate costs cover medical, food and laundry expenses. It’s not likely, but that could cost North Las Vegas another $26 million if every bed is filled every day for five years.
Police estimate the plan will save North Las Vegas $11 million this fiscal year and $16 million each of the next four years. The five-year plan is costing the city about $16 million.
North Las Vegas is operating one wing of the jail, which houses male inmates. Female inmates are housed with Las Vegas’ female inmates and are cared for by Las Vegas jail employees.
North Las Vegas laid off about 100 jail employees because of the merger, keeping about 45 to staff a section of the Las Vegas facility. The layoffs represent a majority of the cost savings, with additional savings from fewer medical costs.
Some of those employees are suing the city, citing officials violated the union agreement by outsourcing jobs when they closed the jail.
Terri March, North Las Vegas Justice Court administrator, said there are still some issues with inmates connecting with their attorneys and having to be moved to Clark County’s detention center to do so. She also added there are fewer instances of inmates still in jail after posting bond.
“It’s less of a mess,” she said. “Compared to the first 60 days, it has improved dramatically.”
Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 383-0440.