Economy, families could suffer if prison closes |

Economy, families could suffer if prison closes

F.T. Norton
and David Mirhadi
Appeal Staff Writers

If the Nevada State Prison is closed, 200 employees of Nevada’s oldest continuously operated prison will have to find other work.

That, said Gregory Smith, Nevada Department of Corrections spokesman, is the department’s greatest concern.

“We’re really going to look hard at finding state employment for any employee that’s displaced by this. It’s a priority for us.”

Smith said employees who work at the prison if it were to shut down would have “bumping rights” in Carson City based on seniority. Bumping rights, he explained, would mean they have first priority on any vacancies, whether they be in the Department of Corrections or within another division of the state government.

He said that when Southern Nevada Correctional Center closed in Las Vegas, similar in size to NSP, only two employees were unable to find other positions within the state.

“We are very concerned about our staff and their families. This prison has been a constant in Carson City since the 1800s and families after families have worked there and it’s been their careers,” he said. “It’s out of our control until we find out at the end of the special session. If needed, we will target Nevada State Prison for closure,” he said.

Should those workers have to move out of Carson City to find state employment, the impact would be devastating, said Ron Weisinger, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority.

“When a company is here, your local community depends on those people for local taxes,” he said. “When a company that’s already here closes or downsizes, in a sales-tax dependent community like Carson City,” it can have negative effects, he said.

Prison employees, he said, are people who often purchase cars, groceries and furniture in local dealerships and stores.

“The only way to recoup that kind of loss is to build and grow the economy in Northern Nevada,” he said. “When you lose an established company, it’s devastating.”

Weisinger said state officials are in a difficult position now, with tight economic times.

“There isn’t anybody who is going to survive this and be happy,” he said.

– Contact F.T. Norton at 881-1213 or and David Mirhadi at 881-1261 or