- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The Clark County Detention Center is running a deficit approaching $28 million this fiscal year as the inmate population increases, county lawmakers were told.

Clark County commissioners said they want a committee to look at overcrowding at the downtown jail and make recommendations early next year for short-term and long-term solutions.

“Over the next couple years, we really need to get a handle on the situation,” County Manager Don Burnette said.

Deputy Las Vegas police Chief Todd Fasulo told the commission on the jail population was at an all-time high.

Patrol officers aren’t arresting and booking as many misdemeanor offenders in an effort to keep the inmate population down. But the detention center still typically has about 4,000 people in custody on any given day, including those at a north valley complex, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1w9rRja).

Data show that jail bookings have decreased more than 18 percent in the past year, from 6,167 in July 2013 to 5,024 in July 2014.

In the past three years, average jail stays have increased from 18 days to 22 days.

The impacts extend beyond the reduced ability to arrest misdemeanor offenders.

Inmates are locked down more often because of limited jail staffing, which Fasulo said results in an unhealthy environment.

The center’s expenses include $5 million over budget on overtime costs, and $1.5 million for a radio system upgrade that will help the detention center when it transports about 600 inmates a day.

Space for further growth is limited. The county rents jail space from the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson, but there’s little room for renting more beds, Fasulo said.

The committee, made up of judges, police and representatives from the Clark County prosecutor and public defender offices, will work with an eye toward getting recommendations ready early next year, when officials start planning the next budget, which starts July 1.

Last year, the detention center’s inmate population soared in part because of delays in getting pre-sentence reports finished by the state Division of Parole and Probation within the legally required 45-day window.

Those reports are used by judges for sentencing after a conviction or guilty plea. The state has hired more report writers, which has helped that problem, Fasulo said, noting that there’s still a lag until the system catches up.

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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

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