Crawford out as prison director
September 15, 2005
Jackie Crawford has been ousted as Nevada’s Director of Corrections, replaced by her former deputy Glen Whorton.
Crawford has been under investigation by the governor’s office for the past two weeks, accused of arbitrarily granting good-time credits to more than 170 inmates, resulting in their being released anywhere from 30 days to several months earlier than their release date.
In many of those cases, she used her authority to grant extra good-time credits for “meritorious acts.” In a couple of cases, she awarded extra credits toward release saying the inmates earned them earlier but never had them credited to their records.
The governor’s Division of Internal Audits reported that, after removing duplicate names and those who expired their sentences fairly, the actual number of inmates released early was 98.
“Of the 98 inmates released early, we could not find any documentation supporting meritorious acts performed by the early released inmates,” auditors reported.
Of those, 41 were released from medium security facilities, the rest from minimum security.
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One of those released was James Yach, who served 81Ú2 years of a 20-year sentence for drunken driving causing the death of a Las Vegas man. His sentence was reduced 62 days for work he supposedly performed in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000. Crawford said an audit of his work record showed he had earned the credits.
That enabled him to leave the prison in late August.
The case came under fire from several sources because Yach is the son of Gordon Yach, former chief of the Metropolitan Police Jail, who Crawford has known for many years.
Both he and Crawford said that had nothing to do with it, that the credits were properly credited to Yach for work he did. In addition, she granted him some of the credits for heroic actions after a prison truck backed into a gas pump and started a fire. Other prison officials, however, said they had no knowledge any such incident ever occurred.
Auditors said no documentation was available to prove an audit of Yach’s work record was ever performed. And because no appeal was filed by Yach within the 60 days after the alleged work was performed, auditors said, he wasn’t entitled to the work credits under prison regulations.
Auditors also cited the release of Melissa Conlon and Barbara Haddox, both of whom had their sentences reduced by 31Ú2 months by Crawford using “meritorious service” credits.
Conlon, they pointed out, had 16 disciplinary charges in her record. In neither case, auditors said, could they find any evidence to support awarding the credits.
State officials are reportedly still looking into allegations Crawford granted two female inmates special privileges in return for help building inmate support for the state to take over the women’s prison from a private contractor a year ago. Those special privileges allegedly included the use of a cell phone, which is strictly prohibited by prison rules as a security violation.
Crawford was placed on medical leave for the remainder of the year. A release from the governor’s office said her departure was because of her continuing and growing back problems and she needed to take care of those medical issues.
She will formally retire from state service at the end of the year.
– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.