NDOC to close Carson City correctional facility

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 11:21 AM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Nevada Department of Corrections will close a northern Nevada correctional facility to address safety, security and staffing, the department announced Monday.

NDOC made the announcement Monday at the Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City.

“Placing WSCC into a sustained temporary closure and distributing personnel to other institutions will allow for safer conditions for both staff and offenders,” said NDOC Acting Director William Gittere. “The increase in staffing at the other institutions will improve our ability to meet Constitutional and state law requirements related to the effective management of the offender population. Decreased overtime directly improves work stress and fatigue, which will be a key factor in the improvement to the quality of life and retention of staff.”

All the offenders currently housed at WSCC will move to Northern Nevada Correctional Center, which is also in Carson City, starting in December. NDOC said some offenders will move to other institutions as appropriate.

NDOC said no jobs will be lost and employees won’t be transferred outside the region unless done on a voluntary basis. NDOC said with the current vacancies at facilities, the consolidation move could save the state $14 million annually in overtime and operational costs.

The decision comes after a high-profile escape of a convicted murderer in September forced NDOC to address issues at all its prisons. The escape happened at a facility north of Las Vegas and was not noticed or reported for days.

It led to the resignation of the department’s director and a new emphasis on security protocols.

Monday, FOX5 spoke to a correctional officer about what it’s like to work in Nevada’s prisons and the pending closure.

“As officers, we are potentially happy to be home with our families more and less mandated overtime,” stated David Horton who works at a prison in Northern Nevada and is a member AFSCME Local 4041, a union representing correctional officers. While Horton is not in support of closing any state prison in Nevada, he hopes it will help with some of the issues statewide and at the prison where he works.

“On a state level, our overtime is tremendous. Our staffing levels are down at each institution,” explained Horton.

While sometimes Horton chooses to work overtime, other times it is mandated.

“Mandates are hard because sometimes they end up very last minute. It does truly take away from families, they are unplanned. You can’t travel, take a vacation, things like that,” Horton shared.

For Horton, overtime it is not just a few hours every once in a while. A 12-hour shift is typical.

“I can work anywhere from 32-40 hours of overtime in a pay period...We get home, we have a few hours with our family, and then we are up and doing it again,” Horton revealed.

Horton maintains in his line of work exhaustion can be dangerous.

“It leads to potential safety and security concerns not only for officers but for inmates because we are not at our best to help them, to protect them and then we can’t always protect ourselves should something happen,” Horton said.