Nevada prison to close due to staffing, safety, cost-cutting measures

A state prison in northern Nevada will be closed as a safety, staffing and cost-cutting measure, and inmates and staff members will be reassigned to other facilities, the state’s prisons chief said Monday.

The closure of Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City will let administrators boost staffing at other facilities and cut overtime and department operational costs by about $14 million a year, said William Gittere, acting Nevada Department of Corrections director.

Gittere said no jobs will be lost and only prison employees who volunteer will be transferred outside the region. He termed the closure a “sustained temporary” measure.

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Warm Springs is a medium-security men’s facility built in 1961 with a current capacity of more than 500 inmates. Nearly all inmates will be moved in coming weeks to nearby Northern Nevada Correctional Center “without the loss of privileges or programming,” Gittere said, but some may be moved to other institutions.

“Distributing personnel to other institutions will allow for safer conditions for both staff and offenders,” he said.

The department has almost 10,000 inmates and about 2,850 employees at seven institutions, nine conservation camps and two transitional housing centers.

Gittere has headed the prisons system since last month, when former state prisons chief Charles Daniels resigned under pressure following reports of violence and chronic understaffing and the headline-grabbing escape of a convicted bombmaker from a medium-security prison outside Las Vegas.

Porfirio Duarte-Herrera was serving life in prison for a fatal Las Vegas Strip casino parking structure explosion in 2007. His Sept. 23 escape went unreported for four days. He was arrested Sept. 28 in Las Vegas as he stood in line to board a bus to Tijuana, Mexico.

Gittere said in a statement that prison staff vacancies have averaged up to 52% at Warm Springs, Northern Nevada and Lovelock correctional centers, and uniformed staff have been averaging up to 35 hours of overtime per pay period.

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