Impact Nevada: Little Public Interest in More Help to Prisons
LAS VEGAS -- In the latest Impact Nevada poll, the question was posed about what to do with law enforcement and prisons. The partnership between 8 News NOW, Vegas PBS and the Las Vegas Review-Journal has been asking Nevadans their opinions about services and taxes.
But public safety may not get much sympathy -- out of sight, out of mind. Some inmates are sent to the outskirts of Carson City, and the aging buildings now swelling beyond capacity. To hear Director of Corrections Howard Skolnik tell it, prisons need help.
"When you get right down to it, we're really operating at 75-percent," he said.
Skolnik has been locked in a battle with the legislature for more funding for years. He says layoffs, furloughs and Democratic plans for reductions have made conditions unsafe. But new polls give law enforcement and prisons a mixed review.
Nearly 15-percent would welcome tax increases to help, higher than many other options in the Impact Nevada polls. Most would be fine with a balance between taxes and help.
But nearly a third say get rid of funding for law enforcement and prisons. They don't want to pay more taxes. Skolnik knows that won't entirely work.
"The question will be whether that translates to legislative support," he said.
His most controversial proposal will still aim to close the crumbling Nevada State Prison. Skolnik wants to shudder the facility and move personnel and inmates around the state. He says its time has come.
"Essentially, what you're talking about if we keep the Nevada State Prison open, is you're talking about $115 million over the next 10 years that could conceivably go to education," he said.
Skolnik will keep pushing, trying to keep the out of sight on everyone's mind.