Lincoln County Detention Center looking to house Nellis inmates

Arrangements are continuing between the Lincoln County Detention Center and Nellis Air Force Base whereby Lincoln County is able to receive some of the overflow jail inmates that are U.S. Air Force personnel being housed at Nellis.

This is in addition to the extra inmates already being received from North Las Vegas and the City of Las Vegas.

Sheriff Kerry Lee said he is hopeful to have the needed documents received and ready to present to the commission board at the April 17 meeting.

Nellis also lost their contract with the City of North Las Vegas when that facility was closed and have been taking their inmates who have been arrested and tried or awaiting trial by the Air Force justice system, all the way to California to house them. Lee said when Lincoln County learned what was happening they went to the air base and told them, “No need to send them to California when we can take them. And they do the transportation to and from, so we would not be responsible for that.”

The need from Nellis would not be very much, Lee noted. “All they really need is a place for about 10-12, or less. But we wouldn’t hold those spots open. If we didn’t have that many openings at a given time, we would just take however many we could.”

He said Nellis is having trouble at their small scale facility “holding both male and female inmates at the same time and don’t have enough other housing to deal with it.”

Most of those from Nellis would be short term inmates, probably up to 90 days, although some might be longer. Sentences are given by the Air Force military courts, and not from civilian courts.

Keeping the detention center open has been a real priority of the sheriff’s department in the past year or so after learning they would lose the contracts from Las Vegas.

Retired Captain Gary Davis noted this detention center is unique in the state, possibly in the nation, because it operates as a private facility. “It pays for itself and is not dependent on County General Fund money, and very few have such contract facilities.”

Lincoln County has done very well at this also, he explained. “With the financial success of the facility they have been able to hire additional staff. Whereas there used to be only four or five, but now have 13. And when there are 90 inmates there, those officers are busy.”

The past success of the detention center was instrumental in keeping everyone employed in the six or seven months between the old and new contracts with the City of Las Vegas and the City and North Las Vegas. Davis noted, “There was enough money in the savings that no one lost their job and were still able to make renovations and improvements to the facility.”

And now, the detention center is ready for a new chapter in its history.

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