Prisons predict quiet night New Year’s Eve, volunteer troops to help other agencies
Nevada prison officials are predicting a quiet night for the more than 9,000 inmates in their custody – quiet enough that Director Bob Bayer is loaning a few of his people to other agencies.
“We’ve been getting ready for about a year now,” said Bayer. The prisons have backup procedures to make sure prison business continues normally through any Y2K problem.
“Remember, we lock down anyway, so we’ll just do it a couple hours earlier, that’s all,” he said.
He said the prison system can function without its computers even if there are problems. The backup generators have been tested and everything from controlling cell locks to identifying which inmates are entitled to be where can be done manually.
He said even if the computers died, prison officials have printed out every bit of data, including individual inmate release dates, needed to carry them through January.
“If we were worried about major problems, we wouldn’t be planning regular visitation hours New Year’s Day,” he said. “We want every inmate to be able to do his time here in Nevada without violence.”
In fact, Bayer said, he has agreed to loan some of his staff to other jurisdictions, including Douglas County, which is preparing for a huge crowd in Tahoe’s Stateline casino district. He said they will be helping transport any celebrators who get arrested, freeing deputies for crowd control.
He said prison staffers are ready to help in Carson City and other areas as well. The Jean Prison south of Las Vegas, for example, is setting aside several cells in a secure area for DUI and other arrests on I-15 so Clark County deputies don’t have to transport them to Las Vegas.
Bayer said there are no indications of any serious problems coming despite recent fights between two rival gangs.
“It looked to me like we had two different factions vying for control, both Hispanic,” he said. “But we’re not going to put up with any violence in the system.”
There were three separate incidents in a seven-day period ending last week in a fight in which one inmate was stabbed. Some members of those two prison gangs have since been moved and other measures taken to prevent any further incidents.
“We had to make the point that it’s our turf, not theirs or anybody else’s, and that’s the way it should be,” he said.