The Department of Corrections is governed by the Board of State Prison Commissioners. This board consists of the Governor, as Chairperson, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General. The Department is administered by a Director, appointed by the Governor, and is a member of the Governor's cabinet. An organizational chart is attached. The Department is authorized 2,739 employees, statewide upon the opening of the new High Desert State Prison in September 2000. There are five basic organizational components of the Department. A description of each of these Divisions follows.
The Operations Division consists of the Institutions and Facilities, and is administered by one Deputy Director in the North and one in the South. Each institution is managed by a Warden. The institutions are divided into three components; Security, Programs, and Support Services. There is the security component managed by a designated Associate Warden. This person is the supervisor of all the officers in the institution. Another Associate Warden is responsible for supervising the classification and disciplinary activities of the institution and coordinating the programs offered in the institution. Some institutions have an Administrative Services Officer to supervise support services such as maintenance, food service, and accounting. The medical staff of the institution receive administrative supervision from the Warden, but are responsible to the Medical Director for treatment services.
Support Services Division
The Support Services Division provides centralized support to the Department's operations in the following areas: Budgeting, Accounting, Financial Management, Information Technology and Inmate Services. The Financial Section manages all financial aspects of running the Department. This includes creation and oversight of the budget, accounting,financing, purchasing/ procurement and contracts. The Information Technology Section provides management of over 100 servers and 1500 computers. The IT Section also provides technical support for the Department's Nevada Offender Tracking Information System (NOTIS). Inmate Servicesprovides a banking function to manage the funds of approximately 13,000 inmates. The inmate store system operates in all major institutions and each of our camps. Inmate stores have sales of approximately $6.5 million a year. Inmate services provides central support for recreational activities within the Institutions and also helps to coordinate the activities of the law libraries located throughout the NDOC system.
Offender Management Division
The Offender Management Division is comprised of four sections and is headed by the division's administrator, who also holds the title of Chief of Classification and Planning. The Sentence Management Section is responsible for recording inmate sentences, and calculating parole eligibility and discharge dates. Additionally this section is responsible for central records management and inmate records management policy throughout the Department. The Classification Section is the central classification approval authority for the Department. This section approves all inmate assignments to institutions, all custody reductions below minimum custody, and administers the Interstate Corrections Compact, and the Central Monitoring System. The Statistics, Research, and Planning section provides management information, population projection data, policy simulation, and statistical reports. Additionally, the division is responsible for the veracity of the department's inmate records as found in department's computer records and inmate records. This is a comprehensive, client based information system which provides automated information services for inmate sentence and records management, inmate transportation, inmate classification, inmate health care, and institution and facility operations.
The Medical Division is administered by the Medical Director and Medical Administrator, who are responsible for medical, dental, clinical mental health and pharmacy services and polices throughout the Department. The medical facilities in each major institution are staffed by licensed health professionals. The Medical Director supervises the clinical staff and operations of medical, dental, clinical mental health and pharmacy services. Nursing departments and operations are supervised by two divisional Chiefs of Nursing located in Carson City and Las Vegas. The Central Pharmacy, located at the Casa Grande Transitional Housing Center in Las Vegas, is supervised by the Chief of Pharmacy. The division’s administrative offices are located in the department’s central offices in Carson City.
Prison Industries (PI) provides productive, compensated work for inmates throughout the Department and state. It is managed by a Deputy Director located in Las Vegas. PI encompasses a diverse variety of in-house operations, and joint venture programs. The largest program is the Department's Ranch. The Department obtained 1,140 acres of land near the Carson River in 1910. This ranch/farm is successfully engaged in milk, livestock, hay production and wild horse boarding and training. A portion of this property later became the site of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center. Prison Industries also has quality furniture and custom metal fabrication operations at this same site. Prison Industries manufactures institutional and residential mattresses, as well as running a graphic arts program including bookbindery, document production & management services, both located at the Nevada State Prison. At the Southern Desert Correctional Center, PI has a paint, body & upholstery operation for the restoration of classic and historic autos, BigHouse custom motorcycles and had engaged in joint ventures to produce water trucks for the construction market and high performance sports cars components. Other PI operations include garments cut & sew at Lovelock Correctional Center, draperies at Ely State Prison, and card sorting and metal fabrication at High Desert State Prison. Prison Industries can provide space and labor for just about all manufacturing and service operations. All existing or possibly new industries can be discussed by contacting the Deputy Director for Prison Industries at the Southern Central Office (702) 486-9991.
Size and Type
There are presently 8 institutions and 11 facilities administered by the Department of Corrections. Their name, location, date of opening, and security designation and population are presented in a chart in the Department's statistical report that accompanies this document.
The population growth of the Department was relatively steady over the years, until early 1970. At the end of 1969, there were 665 inmates incarcerated in the department. At the end of 1999 there were 9,227 inmates in our prisons; a percent of increase of 1287%. The Department of Corrections has grown faster than the population of the State. For many years during this period, the State of Nevada had the highest incarceration rate of any other state in the nation. From 1990 to 1999, the rate at which the Department grew declined. The average, annual percent of increase for the inmate population was 5.59%.
The Central Offices of the Department are located in buildings originally occupied by the Stewart Indian School, near Carson City. There is a Southern Central Office in Las Vegas which houses a large Personnel office, the Southern Administration office, Investigative, and Medical sections. The Department's Prison Industries program is headquartered in this Las Vegas Office.
Approximately 65% of the inmates in our institutions and facilities are engaged in some productive activity. Programming is divided into two major activities, Work or education/training. Work assignments provide the basic labor to meets the institutions' operational needs. Inmates are employed as clerks, cooks, boiler operators, porters, and in numerous other assignments. No inmate is allowed to supervise another inmate in work. The inmates earn credit towards parole and discharge, as will be explained later, and some earn small wages.
Every institution and facility of the Department has some educational resources. Major institutions present educational programs ranging from basic literacy, through an Associate of Arts degree. The basic and secondary classes are presented by the county school district in which the institution is located, and are supported by the State Distributive Education Fund. The college courses are presented by the State Community College System. The Conservation Camps have a computer-based, prescriptive educational program to meet basic literacy needs.
The primary work activity at the Conservation Camps are conservation projects, supervised by staff of the Nevada Division of Forestry. The most obvious activity in this program is the action of fire fighting crews during summer. The inmates assigned to these minimum custody assignments earn up to 20 days a month off their sentence for this work. Additionally, they can be nominated for up to 90 meritorious credits for their fire fighting activities.
The Restitution program allows inmates to work at jobs in the community and return to the Restitution Centers to live and program. These inmates reimburse the State for the cost of their room and board, and pay restitution to the victims of their crimes. These inmates must meet the same requirements as minimum custody inmates, except that they must be within six months of a probable release. The restitution center in Reno is a male facility. The center in Las Vegas houses both male and female inmates.
The Department operates a "Boot Camp," otherwise called a Program of Regimental Discipline. This program is located at the Indian Springs Conservation Camp. It has a capacity of 60. Offenders are assigned to this program for 190 days by District Court Judges, after their conviction for non-violent felonies. The offenders are treated to a military lifestyle, that includes educational and life skills training, manual labor, and extensive physical training. When complete, the offender returns to the Court with a recommendation for Probation or Prison.
Religious programs are coordinated by a Chaplain in the Northern region and one in the Southern region. Most religious programs are provided by community volunteers servicing the differing denominations represented in the inmate population.
Inmates in institutions are assigned to one of five custody levels at the time of their first classification. These custody levels are:
Community - This is the least restrictive level, and generally applies to inmates assigned to restitution centers or to State government jobs in Carson City. These inmates are not supervised when they are away from their assigned facility.
Minimum - This custody is used for inmates who are not considered escape risks when supervised. When they are away from their assigned facility, they must be supervised by a State employee. The facilities they live in do not have gun towers or barrier fences.
Medium - This is the custody assigned to inmates who would be an escape risk if they were not inside a secure institution, but who are expected to behave without constant, direct supervision. This is the largest custody category of inmates. These are the general population inmates of most of our institutions.
Close - This custody is assigned to inmates who require housing in a very secure institution or who require frequent, direct supervision. This custody constitutes the general population of a max prison, or the segregated population of a medium security institution. These are inmates with a high potential for misconduct or escape.
Maximum - This is the most restrictive custody level in the Department. These inmates may not exit their cells without constant, direct supervision. They have a very high potential for violence, and are generally segregated from one another.
Residential Confinement - Inmates who meet a strict criminal history and behavioral criteria may be assigned to residential confinement and the supervision of the Division of Parole & Probation. In this program inmates live in their residence ad work in the community. When not at work or authorized appointments the inmates remain in their residence under electronic surveillance.
These custodies are periodically reviewed by classification staff and may be adjusted. The Department employs an objective classification system that is supported by an automated information system.
At the present time the lawful method of execution is by means of lethal injection. The site of executions is still the chamber in the Nevada State Prison. Inmates on death row are now housed at the Ely State Prison, in Ely,Nevada. A total of 73 persons have been executed in the Department. Twelve persons have been executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty. At the time of this writing, there are 77 persons on death row.
The prison became the designated site of executions in the early years of this century. Prior to that, executions were the responsibility of local sheriffs. The first execution took place with the hanging of John Hancock on 9-9-05. The Prison was the site of the first execution in the United States which used lethal gas. This occurred on 2-8-24, when Gee Jon was executed with cyanide gas that was sprayed into a makeshift gas chamber. A gas chamber was constructed in 1929, and a second chamber was placed in the extreme Northeast corner of the old portion of the institution, its current location.
The first prison in Nevada was created by the Territorial Legislature in 1862. The Legislature leased the property of the Warm Springs Hotel, just east of Carson City for use as a Prison. This property was owned by Abraham Curry, who operated the Warm Springs Hotel on the property, which was also the meeting place of the Territorial Legislature. This prison is located on what is now Fifth Street in Carson. Curry became the first Warden of the Prison. A quarry on the site of the Prison was used for stone for the State Capitol and other public buildings. It also provided materials for the construction of the Prison and was the major work activity for inmates for many years.
In 1864, the Territorial Legislature purchased the site of the Prison from Curry and an additional 20 acres for $80,000. Nevada became a State in October of that year, and the new constitution provided that the Lieutenant governor of the State also served as the Warden of the Prison. The Governor, Secretary of State, and the Attorney General were constituted as the Board of Prison Commissioners, an arrangement that continues today.
In May 1870, a substantial portion of the prison burned and construction of new facilities began immediately, using the native stone and inmate labor. Portions of that early construction are still visible in the current structure of the Prison. This Nevada State Prison remained the only state correctional facility in Nevada for many decades. Both men and women were housed in the facility, in separate areas. Expansion of the Prison began in the early 1960’s with the construction of a second facility in Carson City, which became the Northern Nevada correctional Center. A separate institution was also constructed next to the Nevada State Prison, for the separate housing of female offenders. The construction of our first facility in the Las Vegas area was completed in early 1978.
There are presently eight major institutions; one restitution center NNRC and one Transitional Housing Center - Casa Grande Transitional Center; and nine conservation camps operated by the Department. Additionally, the department's major female housing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility is located in North Las Vegas.