I-Team: Nevada prisons overcrowded, understaffed

LAS VEGAS - There's a crisis inside Nevada prisons, according to a deputy director for the Department of Corrections. They are overcrowded and expecting even more prisoners in the future. He is asking for a fix now.

Nevada prisons are overcrowded, understaffed, and lacking effective programs, according to leaders at the Department of Corrections.

"The crisis is now," said Deputy Director David Tristan, Nevada Department of Correction.

Prison leaders met with lawmakers during a budget session Monday and laid out a list of problems, such as a need for space.

They say they may need to house Nevada inmates in prisons outside the state.

"Now we're at a position where we don't even know where to put them," said Director James Dzurenda, Nevada Department of Corrections. "It's going to become a dangerous situation."

He took over less than a year ago and says it may look like there are several beds open inside a prison but they may not be the right beds.

"I can't put low security inmates in a death row unit even though I may have beds in a death row unit," he said."

Dzurenda referred to a devastating increase of 1,000 inmates from four years ago. He says, there's 300 to 400 up for parole, but there's no place outside of prison for them to go.

He also describes a need for change on how to rehabilitate offenders.

"There's programs that we do have today that are not working," Dzurenda said. "I'm not sure why we we're doing 'em. I call them feel good programs."

And it's not just the inmates they're focusing on.

Leaders say they want to pay corrections officers more. Right now, one deputy director says entry level officers make $39,000 and take home $27,000.

The plan is to increase that so the officers would get a raise and take home an extra $1,600. It's not a huge difference but leaders say it's a start.

There are job openings at the Department of Corrections, but leaders say it's tough to recruit since other agencies, for example, police departments pay significantly more.

 


 


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