Prison now caring for near 600 horses

The Nevada Department of Corrections wild-horse program cost the state nearly $218,000 last year.

Prison industries officials say the main reason was the cost of building corrals and other infrastructure to handle the horses boarded there under contract with the Bureau of Land Management.

John McCuin of Prison Industries told lawmakers Thursday that should turn around next year because the corrals are already built and BLM has been forced to increase the number of horses it boards with the prison system from 500 to 600.

He said as of this week, there were 597 horses boarded with the state, at $2.70 a day.

That translates to $1,612 in revenue every day -- minus feed and overhead costs.

McCuin said the state is also cutting the cost of that feed by having inmates help harvest hay for the University of Nevada, Reno. He said prisons collected nearly $100,000 worth of hay from that arrangement, sharply reducing costs to feed the horses.

Director of Corrections Jackie Crawford told lawmakers they are also looking to expand the garment factory operated by the prisons. That project was originally begun to provide prison clothing for Nevada inmates. She said the plant at Lovelock is looking to expand to provide inmate garb for Nevada county and city jails and specialized clothing items for hotels and casinos in Nevada.

"I would have to say the quality of our garments are much better than what we purchase," she said. She added that potential buyers will find them attractive for the price.

The prison industries program provides jobs and job skills training for more than 700 inmates operating more than 20 different programs -- many of them in cooperation with private industries which have plants at several Nevada prison facilities.

As part of the system, more than a third of the income those inmates earn goes to pay for their room and board, the victims of crimes fund and to expand the prison industry program for other inmates.

Last year, those inmates earned more than $1.8 million in wages, some $646,000 of which went to those programs.

Crawford that that is nearly double the number of inmates who were in the programs when she became director. She hopes to eventually provide employment and training for up to 3,000 of the 10,000 inmates in Nevada's prison system.


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