LVRJ: Plan to close youth prison questioned

Feb. 11, 2010
Source: Las Vegas Review Journal

CARSON CITY — Legislators questioned Wednesday whether Gov. Jim Gibbons’ plan to close the maximum-security Summit View Youth Correctional Center in Las Vegas would save money or just lead to problems at wide-open rural centers where offenders would be moved.

They said that the state still must pay off costs for constructing the $15 million Summit View youth prison near Nellis Air Force Base and that the Elko and Caliente facilities, where some 40 offenders would be sent, might not be secure enough for them.

Summit View is built like a prison with razor wire fencing. The rural youth training centers do not have fences. They are cottagelike settings where the staff members make sure offenders don’t just walk away.

Department of Health and Human Services Director Michael Willden told legislators the state can save $3.7 million by closing Summit View. Layoff notices have been sent to facility workers.

Legislators are reviewing proposals by Gibbons to close Summit View and cut state agency spending by 10 percent between March and June 30, 2011, the end of the state’s two-year budget cycle. Summit View is on the governor’s cut list, but a decision to close it will not be made until the Legislature goes into a special session on Feb. 23.

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Citizens can give their views on Summit View and other cuts during a 9 a.m. to noon town hall meeting Saturday in Room 4401 in the Sawyer Building, 555 E. Washington Ave. A similar hearing will be held in Reno.