Nevada’s Prison Industries program, which is charged with being self-supporting, is on its way to a banner year for fiscal 2013.
Lawmakers criticized the program in 2012 for mounting losses. But prison officials told the legislative and private industry panel overseeing its operations Friday that through the first three quarters of fiscal year 2013, the program had generated net income of $490,707 — an improvement of more than $650,000 compared with the $165,883 loss it reported at that point a year ago.
The biggest swing was in operations of the Prison Ranch program, which went from a loss of $8,782 for three quarters of 2012 to profit of $431,610 in that same period of 2013.
But the main Prison Industries also contributed to the program’s growing fiscal health, losing just $13,970 compared with $212,127 in the same period last year.
Prison Industries’ mission is to provide inmates with work — work that gives them job skills that will enable them to thrive once they’re released. It is also designed to have inmates pay at least some of the costs of housing them.
They give 24.5 percent of their pay to defray costs of housing them and 5 percent each to the Victims of Crime Fund and program’s Capital Improvement Fund to expand the program.
Those inmates contributed $431,810 to their room and board and $88,124 each to the capital improvement fund and Victims of Crime program.
Industries within Prison Industries that showed increases for 2013 include the Mattress Factory and the auto and upholstery shop. But the star was the Prison Ranch, which takes care of wild horses for BLM.
Deputy Director of Corrections Brian Connett said not only are they taking care of more horses for BLM, they renegotiated the contracts they use to purchase hay — their biggest expense — and renegotiated the deal with BLM for what they get paid.
He also said the program, which has lost a number of private partners during the recession, is beginning to recover.