By Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

LAS VEGAS (AP) - About one in 10 people booked last year into the two largest jails in Las Vegas had no permanent place to live, a police official told a panel studying homelessness on Thursday.

Las Vegas Department of Public Safety Lt. Danielle Davis told the group the homeless make up about 10% of the overall city jail population, but that one measurement put the figure at just over 15% of the more than 33,000 people booked last year, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Of the nearly 75,000 people processed into the Clark County Detention Center in 2019, just over 6% identified themselves as homeless, Las Vegas Metropolitan police Capt. Neldon Barrowes said.

The presentations came with the city beginning Feb. 1 to enforce a law making it illegal for people to sleep on streets when beds are available at established shelters.

The panel of regional government officials and nonprofits is assessing homelessness and sources of funding to address it.

The police officials said detainees at both the 3,100-bed county jail and the 1,100-bed city facility are usually assessed within 12 hours of being booked for identification as homeless and referral to social services.

In October, the city contracted with NaphCare Inc. to use a county Homeless Management Information System to connect detainees with services and needed medications, company representative Breana Givens said.

The average jail stay is about 10 days, during which detainees can meet with psychiatrists for substance abuse and mental health services and receive Foundation for an Independent Tomorrow job training.

Givens said detainees also are directed to specialty courts, which in Las Vegas offer services in drug, driving under the influence, mental health, gambling treatment, family welfare and veterans cases.

Service providers held an October community resource fair for city jail detainees with a goal of reducing a jail recidivism rate that Davis said is currently about 25%. Another forum in April will focus primarily on the homeless, she said.

The larger county jail provided six resource fairs in 2019, and Barrowes said that just under 20% of the 340 detainees who participated re-offended.

On Wednesday, 105 detainees attended a fair and engaged with 34 community partners, the Las Vegas police captain said. Participants received help obtaining birth certificates, employment and health assessments, substance abuse counseling and housing assistance.

Barrowes said jail detainees face problems similar to the homeless, including mental illness, unemployment, substance abuse and lack of access to housing and overall support.

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