Prison director hopeful most jobs will be saved if state prison closes | NevadaAppeal.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Prison director hopeful most jobs will be saved if state prison closes

“About 171” Nevada State Prison employees will receive layoff notices if the Carson City facility is closed, Director of Corrections Howard Skolnik told lawmakers Thursday.

“Many of those employees will be able to fill other positions around the state,” Skolnik said. But he said there will be layoffs as a result.

Skolnik told the Interim Finance Committee that the prison will not close overnight. He said inmates would be transferred to other institutions over a period of months as space becomes available. He said that would enable him to shut down units at the prison one at a time, reducing staff at each stage.

He said several have indicated they are willing to go to Lovelock or Ely, two prisons the state always has trouble staffing, and that those transfers will be granted.

And he said about the time he expects to close Nevada State Prison ” between February and the end of June 2009, 91 new positions will open up in Clark County as the new units open at Southern Desert Correctional Center.

Skolnik said when he first proposed closing down the 130-year-old prison on Fifth Street that it would save about $18 million a year.

“Let me make it clear NSP is on the table only because of the budget reductions, not because it’s a good idea,” he said. “It will result in a temporary increase in danger, but there’s no way to meet the budget reductions without closing a major institution.”

And the prison, because of its ancient design, is the most inefficient, requiring more staff than more modern prisons in the state.

“Frankly, we are at the end of our options. If we take additional reductions, there’s no question we will be putting inmates and staff at risk.”

TITUS ANGERED BY CALLS

Skolnik was chastised by Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, who said she has been receiving calls from sex offenders at home over the new law that reclassified many of them to higher levels of security risk, forcing some to move and endangering jobs of others. She demanded to know who in the prison system was giving her number out.

“I don’t think six sex offenders were randomly able to find my home number unless it’s written on a bathroom wall somewhere,” she said.

Skolnik said his department most likely isn’t the culprit because they have no connection to inmates after they are released. But he said he would check.

Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, said he too received such a call and was told the parole and probation division gave the inmate his number.

Neither Grady nor Titus was an author of the legislation in question.

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