North Las Vegas to reopen jail, end detention deal with Las Vegas

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Since 2012, Las Vegas has been paid more than $52 million to hold North Las Vegas’ inmates in its jail. But the cooperative agreement will end in a year, leaving Las Vegas officials left to figure how to absorb the looming financial hit.

North Las Vegas recently provided a 12-month notice to end the deal housing up to 315 of its inmates — mostly men — in the Las Vegas Detention Center, Las Vegas City Manager Scott Adams said this week.

“Our team is working diligently, and will be over the next 12 months, to analyze the situation and work in every way possible to soften the blow to our general fund,” Adams told the city council Wednesday.

The seven-year partnership allowed Las Vegas to provide North Las Vegas with jail services, he said, at “substantially reduced costs” over what they would have paid on their own: “It was a win-win all the way around.”

But North Las Vegas now is planning to reopen the North Las Vegas Detention Center, which closed in 2012 amid a budget crisis. The city sees the return of inmates to its jail as a way to keep more police officers on the street by reducing the need for them to oversee transportation to Las Vegas and to offer alternative sentencing options to certain offenders.

It sometimes takes officers off patrol for two hours, according to North Las Vegas City Manager Ryann Juden. And sentencing options for those inmates are limited logistically once they become part of the Las Vegas correctional system.

“Can we run a jail cheaper or less expensive than the city of Las Vegas can in providing that service for us? I don’t know, I don’t think so,” he said.

Benefits seen as cutting costs

But Juden asserted that increasing officer patrol times, providing some inmates with alternative sentencing such as community service and making it less likely they will reoffend will ultimately translate to cost savings.

“In the aggregate, we entirely believe it is going to save the residents of North Las Vegas money,” he said.

The North Las Vegas Detention Center, which city officials plan to rehabilitate with about $1.5 million in available capital funds, can hold nearly 500 inmates between two dormitories, according to Juden.

The first contract between the two cities was signed in June 2012, and the latest agreement, for 10 years, was entered into in October 2016.

As part of the current deal, Las Vegas agreed to hold North Las Vegas’ pre-trial defendants and those sentenced for misdemeanors, but Juden said inmates in the latter category have since moved to detention in Lincoln County at “half the cost.”

Las Vegas is contractually obligated to perform the typical operations associated with jail services for North Las Vegas: booking, securing property, recordkeeping, meals, health care and more under the agreement.

In exchange, North Las Vegas pays the city between $132 and $218 per inmate per day, depending on the total number of inmates in custody, the agreement shows.

Over the past seven years, the agreement has generated between $6 million to $8 million in annual revenue to Las Vegas, according to Las Vegas spokesman Jace Radke.

Although those revenues soon will no longer be received, it was not immediately clear how much city expenses, associated with housing additional inmates, would also be reduced. The city could not be reached late Thursday for clarification.

Overall, Las Vegas has collected about $52.7 million through June, according to the city-provided figures.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter. Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.