Examiners OK expanded Lakes Crossing | NevadaAppeal.com

Examiners OK expanded Lakes Crossing

Faced with a federal court order to stop warehousing mentally ill criminal defendants in county jails, the Nevada’s Board of Examiners approved $1.4 million Tuesday to add 28 beds to its existing forensic mental facilities.

Carlos Brandenburg, head of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, said the money will add eight beds to the Lakes Crossing Center for mentally ill offenders in Sparks. In addition, it will convert half of the nearby Dini-Townsend campus into a secure center for criminal defendants who have been ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial.

He said the other half of Dini-Townsend will house the civilly committed mental patients it was designed for but the modifications and operating rules will keep the two populations of patients separate.

The order was issued by Las Vegas federal Magistrate Robert Johnston, declaring the state in violation of a 9th U.S. Circuit Court ruling which states mentally ill offenders have a right to prompt transfer from detention to a treatment facility. The order will require the state to take custody of 12 patients as soon as possible.

Brandenburg said the project will be complete by April 1.

“I will propose this coming session to build a new facility in Las Vegas or expand Lakes Crossing,” said Brandenburg.

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Gov. Kenny Guinn said the state has no choice in the matter.

“If we don’t do it, my understanding is the judge will have his own plan and he’ll do it,” he said.

Guinn, Secretary of State Dean Heller and Attorney General George Chanos all voted to spend the contingency money to expand Lakes Crossing. The Legislative Interim Finance Committee will vote on the same proposal today.

In addition, the board approved spending nearly $569,000 to add personnel at the Department of Motor Vehicles Galletti Way office in Reno.

The money will provide 27 additional window technicians, three supervisors and an accounting position to shorten waiting times at the Reno office.

The funding was budgeted by the 2005 Legislature but held back until wait times became long enough to justify the spending. DMV officials say the growing load on that office now warrants hiring the additional personnel.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.