By Cy Ryan
Saturday, May 14, 2011
CARSON CITY – The ancient Nevada State Prison, initially opened when Abraham Lincoln was president, is finally going to close.
The Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted Saturday to phase out the Carson City facility by April 2012 at a savings of more than $17 million.
Most of the 682 inmates will be transferred to the High Desert State Prison in Clark County, along with 59 staff.
Gov Brian Sandoval proposed in his budget the closure by Oct. 31 this year, but the budget committees, on the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, delayed the phase out.
Horsford said more time was needed to plan the transfer and this would give the officers who are losing their jobs more time to find other employment. And those who are being transferred to High Desert will have more time to re-locate.
The prison, one of the oldest in the United States, was a hotel when purchased by the state in 1862. It burned in 1867 and was rebuilt.
There will be 105 positions eliminated by the closure. But Greg Cox, acting director of the state Department of Corrections, said some of those jobs have been kept vacant.
He said only about 30 officers would lose their jobs. Almost all the officers will retain their employment if they want to move to Las Vegas or other prisons.
Horsford, chairman of the Senate Finance, got assurance from Cox that there were no plans for building a new prison or for expanded facilities.
Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, complained the former corrections director didn’t do any maintenance on the state prison. He said he would not support closure because so many people are affected.
The joint committees voted down the recommendation of Gov. Sandoval. And there was applause from prison employees in the audience.
But then Sandoval offered the plan to keep it open six months longer than the recommendation and that passed.
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