Delaying NSP closure will cost $2.35 million |

Delaying NSP closure will cost $2.35 million

Delaying the closure of Nevada State Prison until the end of April 2012 will cost the state about $2.35 million more than shuttering it by October.

The six-month delay was suggested by Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, when the bulk of the prison system’s budgets were closed. Director of Corrections Greg Cox told lawmakers at that time the closure would bring a net savings of $17.3 million over the biennium – minus the $2.35 million.

The savings are generated because High Desert Correctional Center where most of roughly 700 inmates will be moved is much more efficient than NSP, Nevada’s oldest institution – costing about $6,000 a year less per inmate to run.

The governor’s original plan, Cox said, would result in 107 layoffs and 86 employee transfers. The six month delay, he said, would enable him to greatly reduce that number – perhaps to less than 30. He also said nearly all those correctional employees could keep their jobs if they were willing to transfer out of western Nevada.

But analysts confirmed Thursday there are a number of vacant positions in the three prisons in this area. Northern Nevada Correctional Center at Carson City’s southern border currently has 39 vacant posts. Warm Springs located next door to the prison has 10 vacancies. Another 32 vacancies are at the Lovelock Correctional Center 70 miles northeast of Reno for a total of 81.

One issue created by the decision to delay the prison’s closure is that a large number of the probationary correctional officers at the prison will pass the one year mark and become permanent state employees before April. Former Director Howard Skolnik put off hiring for about a year in anticipation of NSP closing down. When that didn’t happen, he was forced to hire more than 30 new officers less than a year ago.

Prison officials have expressed concern that, once those officers pass the one year mark, they will be less inclined to take a deal transferring them to another institution because they will then have rights under the state personnel system.