LAS VEGAS (AP) - Authorities in Las Vegas are again releasing non-violent offenders from jail, after reporting that they’re handling almost 750 more jail inmates per day than they have beds to accommodate.
Clark County commissioners were told Tuesday that the average daily inmate population at the downtown Clark County Detention Center and the satellite North Valley Complex climbed this month to 4,455.
The Las Vegas Sun reported (https://bit.ly/28NAhpb ) that’s 20 percent more than the combined capacity at the two facilities of 3,706 inmate beds.
Clark County District Court Chief Judge David Barker approved a request from Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo earlier this month to release certain non-felony arrestees without bail before their cases reach court.
A similar jail depopulation program last year wasn’t renewed in January because officials said the jails had room.
But Deputy Chief Richard Suey, head of the police jail division, told the Sun that the inmate population began surging again as violent crimes increased in recent months.
Felony jail bookings increased 18 percent from April to May, he said.
The new order allows for the release of arrestees accused of a single misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offense other than drunken driving, battery, domestic violence, lewdness, weapons or protective order violations.
“Our focus moving forward needs to be on whether we have the right people occupying jail beds,” County Manager Don Burnette said.
Several factors are leading to overcrowding, including the return of more than 200 inmates to county facilities from Henderson and Las Vegas city lockups, Burnette said. The move is expected to save millions of dollars annually, but it also boosts county jail inmate counts.
Other inmates who’ve pleaded or been found guilty are remaining behind bars while state Division of Parole and Probation officials produce pre-sentencing reports takes more than 50 days, on average, to produce pre-sentencing reports.
Burnette said other inmates lack the money to post bail. More than 430 current inmates remain in jail because they can’t raise the approximately $3,000 needed for a bail bonds company to post bail under $20,000.
County officials said they hope by August to begin a program to assess accused offenders for their likelihood of committing another offense or skipping court appearances if they’re released pending trial.
Information from: Las Vegas Sun, https://www.lasvegassun.com
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