The Senate Finance Committee voted Monday to add more than $2 million to budgets for the Nevada Youth Training Center and Caliente Youth Center.
The money will reduce staff ratios from 10 juveniles to eight per supervisor during daylight hours and was included in the governor's recommended budget.
The ratio was strongly recommended by Justice Department inspectors who were sharply critical of the Elko center two years ago. Their report raised accusations some of the inmates at the center were being physically mistreated. An agreement was worked out between federal justice officials and the state which mandated at least 1:10 staffing ratios during the day.
In the joint subcommittee, Senate members balked at adding the staff. Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, argued the added staff was not mandated.
"I didn't see the need for us to go to 1:8," she said.
That contrasted with the Assembly decision to add $1 million at Caliente and $1.3 million at Elko.
Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, argued Monday it was a safety issue for both the juvenile offenders and staff and referred to the memorandum.
"They strongly recommended we reduce those ratios," he said.
Only Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, agreed with Cegavske, with the rest of the full Senate committee joining the Assembly committee in voting to adopt the governor's recommendation.
Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said she was pleased the full Senate committee agreed to the additions.
"It was much stronger than a suggestion we go to eight," she said. "We don't want to get in a situation where the Department of Justice has come in and reprimanded us."
Leslie said conditions in Nevada's juvenile facilities are a serious concern, to the point where AB566 was introduced in the Assembly Monday to provide oversight for those facilities. She said the bill provides funding to hire an investigator to keep an eye on conditions in those institutions.
The vote will add 12 staff including 10 group supervisor positions at Caliente and 15 including 13 supervisor positions at Elko.
Caliente serves youths between 12 and 18 and has a capacity of 140. Three of seven housing units are dedicated to females with the rest for male offenders.
Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko has a capacity of 160 and serves male youths aged 12-18.
n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.