by Michael Lyle, Nevada Current
Amid staffing shortages, prison officials announced the Nevada Department of Corrections is closing Warm Springs Corrections Center in Carson City and consolidating remaining staff to work at other facilities.
The Nevada state prison system averages around 50% staffing vacancy rates at three northern Nevada prisons including Warm Springs, Northern Nevada Correctional Center and Lovelock Correctional Center.
The department plans to move those incarcerated at Warm Springs and staff to nearby prisons starting in December, and the consolidation is estimated to save the state $14 million.
“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,” acting NDOC director William Gittere said in a statement. “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.”
At the beginning of 2022, corrections officials reported the staff vacancy rates soared to 23%, nearly double what it was at the start of the pandemic.
Those who are incarcerated, families of the incarcerated and civil rights groups warned that staffing issues were taking a toll on inmates.
The lack of staff has also led to increased overtime costs. Each pay period has between 25 and 35 overtime hours per uniformed staff.
“While we don’t agree with the closure of any state facility, by consolidating facilities, correctional staff have expressed that this change will relieve correctional officers from excessive mandated overtime and will allow the return to normal schedules with their families, while ensuring all posts and shifts are properly staffed, increasing safety and security,” Harry Schiffman, the president of AFSCME Local 4041, which represents correctional officers, said in a statement.
The latest decision comes less than two months after prison director Charles Daniels resigned after the department took several days to report an inmate, who was serving life for murder, escaped.
Porfirio Duarte-Herrera, who was convicted in 2010 for killing a hotdog vendor after a bomb he constructed went off at the Luxor garage, was serving a life sentence at Southern Desert Correctional Center. The department reported Sept. 27 he had escaped after he had been missing for several days.
He was apprehended Sept. 28. Two days later, Gov. Steve Sisolak asked Daniels to resign.
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