State cost to operate women's prison would be higher

The Department of Corrections wants to take over operation of Nevada's women's prison, even though its estimated cost would be $1 million more a year.

The issue is before the legislative Interim Finance Committee because Corrections Corporation of America, which has operated the North Las Vegas facility since it opened, decided not to renew its contract.

The IFC subcommittee studying the prison will review three private bids and the state system's bid on Thursday. The state must make a decision before Sept. 30, when CCA formally pulls out.

The recommended bidder, identified only as Vendor A, submitted a bid of $42.85 per inmate per day. That comes to $7.2 million next year based on a projected population of 462 women.

The state's bid to operate the prison is $48.91 per inmate-day - a total of $8.2 million a year.

But prison officials, in their submission, questioned whether the bidder can get and keep correctional officers at the $27,000 they propose to pay. The state starts officers at $33,000 and has better benefits.

"Even at the more favorable NDOC rate of pay, correctional officers currently leave state employment to work for higher-paying law enforcement agencies," the state prisons proposal says.

The state proposal also argues it would provide superior programming for female offenders, including full-time staff psychologists, mental-health counselors, social workers and others. NDOC also provides more extensive substance-abuse treatment, educational opportunities and other behavior management and rehabilitation.

CCA said it couldn't make money under its contract with the state, in part because of medical costs. Also part of the problem is that inmates with good health and fewer social or management problems are typically placed in conservation camps run by the state, while those with health and psychological problems - who cost more to manage - were placed in the women's prison.

Vendor A was the recommended proposal of the three private bids. The other two were for less money per inmate-day - both less than $40.

Contact Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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