Let's have some answers before shutting down the prison

Gov. Gibbons has handed down the death sentence for the Nevada State Prison, but union officials made clear last week there are still appeals to be heard.

Gibbons said the prison's closure will be part of his budget for the next biennium. We believe the issues the union raises are in need of answers before that becomes final, however.

It wasn't long ago, for example, that the need for more prison space was considered a crucial issue for the state, and there were expectations of having to build almost $2 billion in additional facilities. And now, just months later, we're told the flow of new inmates has slowed significantly, and contrary to predictions. At the other end, lawmakers have reduced the number of inmates by making more of them eligible for parole (in a tough economy, being tough on crime isn't as important as the bottom line).

Yet what happens if that trend reverses itself back to the original predictions and prison crowding intensifies again?

If so, the $19 million it takes to operate NSP each year will seem insignificant compared to the cost of scrambling to build more prisons.

It's best to get those answers now, before the 200 jobs at NSP are gone for good.

This editorial represents the view of the Nevada Appeal Editorial Board.


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