“Powder Keg” Las Vegas Jail Far Over Capacity


When it opened in 2002, the South Tower of Las Vegas’s Clark County Detention Center nearly doubled the overcrowded jail’s capacity. The jail was designed to hold about 2,860 inmates, but the usual population has grown to more than 3,700 and shows no signs of slowing down, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We’re in a crisis,” Sheriff Bill Young said. Hundreds of inmates are bused to other jails, sleep on cots and linger for days in cramped holding cells waiting for an open bunk. Deputy Chief Mikel Holt, who runs the jail, said, “We are getting close to just not being able to find enough space. I lose a lot of sleep thinking about what to do next.”

With short-term options running out and plans for another facility years away, the sheriff, defense lawyers, and county officials believe a federal lawsuit or investigation could come at any time. Clark County Public Defender Phil Kohn, calling the jail a “powder keg,” said the overcrowded conditions raise tension, and when inmates are on edge, bad things can happen. “With these people on top of each other, somebody is going to get hurt because they’re weak, and it’s going to cost the county millions,” Kohn said. “It’s a recipe for disaster.”

Link: http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Sep-03-Sun-2006/news/9387104.html

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