Minden Jail Overcrowding Prompts Early Release of Some Offenders

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For the third year in a row, the problem of overcrowding at the Douglas County Jail has prompted a court order that authorizes the early release of certain, non-violent offenders.

Sheriff's Lieutenant Paul Howell says two female prisoners were released last week because there wasn't enough places to sleep.

"We've been getting more and more crowded as the summer goes along," Howell told Gardnerville's Record-Courier. "We ran into a three- or four-day period when we had more female inmates than beds.

At the request of the sheriff's department, District Judge David Gamble issued an order that outlines the terms of release in line with
state law. It specifies that inmates eligible for early release must have
served 75 percent of their sentence and can't be serving time for a
violent crime.

Howell says one of the female prisoners was released eight days early on a forgery charge, while the other was released 20 days early on a probation violation for embezzlement.

The jail has a capacity for 98, including 72 beds for males and 16 for females. The other beds are reserved for specific purposes such as inmates with medical conditions.

Howell says inmates could be moved to the prison in nearby Carson City, but that jail is full, too. Overcrowding is being reported across
Northern Nevada.

"The U.S. Marshal wanted us to house 30 inmates because all the
local jails are full," Howell says.

The court order is in effect for 30 days, but can be renewed if the overcrowding persists. County commissioners are scheduled on Thursday to discuss a proposed .5 percent sales tax increase to hire more deputies and fund facilities.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.