State-Run Women's Prison Would Be Most Costly

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The Nevada Corrections Department says it could do a better job of running a women's prison in North Las Vegas than a private company - but costs would go up by at least $1 million a year.

The department said it would have a better-qualified staff and provide "superior programming" for the prison, which houses about 460 inmates.

"Under a private vendor, the women's correctional system would continue to be fragmented from the rest of Nevada's correctional operations and remain subject to the allegation that Nevada's female offenders are denied equal protection or treated like 'second-class citizens,'" the department said.

The prison has had problems in the past year that included an inmate becoming pregnant. DNA testing showed a guard was the father. In addition, inmates signed a petition that complained of poor food quality and medical care, among other things.

Corrections Corporation of America, which built and has operated the prison since 1997, is pulling out on Sept. 30 at the end of its contract.

Three private companies have submitted bids to operate the prison. They have been identified as Civigenics Inc. of Marlborough, Mass., Cornell Cos. of Houston and Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah.

The amounts of their bids weren't disclosed and an evaluation team is studying the applications.

While the private bids were not revealed by the state Purchasing Division, the Corrections Department said the proposed costs by the three bidders range from $6.6 million a year to $7.2 million. The department estimated its cost at $8.2 million a year.

The Corrections Department will make its presentation on running the Southern Nevada Women's Correctional Facility to a legislative subcommittee on Thursday in Reno in an attempt to convince lawmakers to junk private operation of the prison.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he has not seen either the bids by the private company or the proposed budget by the prison. Raggio, chairman of the subcommittee, said it would examine the proposals and then wait for a recommendation from Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Raggio added it would be up to the Interim Finance Committee to decide whether to go forward with a private company or allow the state to assume control.

None of the three private bidders submitted proposals for the medical care of the women. So the state will take over the health care program, regardless what legislators decide.