Nevada is poised to start a costly prison building program because of a rising inmate population, says the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Based on new inmate growth projections, the state plans to reopen a mothballed prison and add 1,008 beds to another facility. A budget proposal includes planning money for a 1,500-bed prison that would be funded in the next budget in 2007.
One lawmaker suggested alternatives to incarceration. “We have not done any halfway housing or transitional housing, and there is nothing for the women,” said Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani. “House arrest is not being utilized, and parole rates are down. If you build them, we will fill them,” she said of the proposed prison beds. State Budget Director Perry Comeaux warned that the proposed budget does not take into account the effects of new police officers. As many as 1,700 new officers could be hired because of voter approval in November of an advisory question approving an increase in the sales tax to pay for more police. The inmate population is expected to reach 10,800 this year, growing to 11,504 in the first year of the new budget and to 11,828 in the second year.