CARSON CITY — A spokesman for Gov. Jim Gibbons said Tuesday that Nevada prison, parole and pardons authorities already are dealing with concerns raised by Secretary of State Ross Miller in his call for a “long-overdue” meeting of the state Prison Board.
But Josh Hicks, Gibbons’ legal counsel, said a Prison Board meeting “will be necessary at some point this year.” The board hasn’t met since July 2006 and since 2004 has held only three meetings.
Hicks said issues raised by Miller on Monday “have been, and continue to be, addressed by the Department of Corrections.” He said numerous steps are being taken to improve prisons and relieve overcrowding.
Miller, a member of the board, said in a letter to Gibbons that the panel has a duty “to provide direction and to consider incarceration alternatives such as a tent city or other options that ensure sentences are fully served.”
Miller said in a telephone interview that he wasn’t playing politics. “We have a bit of a crisis in our prisons.” he said.
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, also on the Prison Board, welcomed Miller’s proposal, saying it’s important that the panel “have an understanding of the system and the facilities that we’re responsible for.”
Miller made his proposal after a meeting two weeks ago of the state’s new Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice. That panel was advised that crowding has led to problems including the recent murder of an inmate by a cellmate at the maximum-security Ely State Prison.
The state’s prisons now hold just over 13,000 inmates, including about 12,000 men and just over 1,100 women. The total is expected to climb to nearly 21,000 over the next 10 years — an increase of 57 percent.