I-Team: Shortage of transitional housing for Nevada inmates costs taxpayers

LAS VEGAS - Nearly 400 inmates in Nevada prisons are ready to be released.  There is a problem because there is no place for some of them to go, due to a lack of transitional housing in the state. 

So, while the inmates wait for placement, the cost to taxpayers, according to numbers provided by the Department of Corrections, is around $23,000 a day.  

"It's a struggle," said Brittany Black, resident. "It's almost like if you get into the system, it's really hard to get out."

Cassandra Hein is trying to address the problem.  Her sister is currently incarcerated, and after documenting the release of several women after Hein became familiar with the prison system, she opened a home with 10 beds in Las Vegas last November. 

"I don't see it as this population that is untouchable. I don't know anything about them, but I do know about them, they're my sister," Hein said. 

Because Cassandra Hein's sister is incarcerated. She's chronicled her family's story which led to "After Orange," her web series following felons after their release and she noticed a lot of them would often return to prison.

Hein told the I-Team it had been a challenge to get approval from Parole & Probation for women to be admitted into the home.  She said it's also costly to become licensed. 

"I'm just trying to keep the place open let alone raise another $100,000 just to be a licensed facility," Hein said.  "I'm just trying to help some people out. They're making it very difficult for regular people to help people out," Hein said.

According to a spokeswoman for the Division of Behavioral and Public Health, just the initial cost for a license would start at $5,400.  That is not including money spent on construction to meet building and fire codes.

The house runs mainly on donations, and the women are expected to pitch in with money earned from jobs.

"We have this taboo as far as like, 'oh the bad girls.' Well, not all of us are bad girls," said Danielle Shapiro, a resident. "You know, we just made some bad choices, and we deserve an opportunity to be seen for who we are and not for what we've done."

Hein is concerned she will have to close the home if the struggle continues.  The women living there describe the home as their lifeline.

"It's a serious struggle. We messed up," said Amalia Sosa-Avila, a resident.  "We've lost everything many times. How many times do we have to pay?  You're forcing us into a corner. Like, give us a chance."

Hein has a GoFundMe page to try to keep the house running.
 


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