Las Vegas Sun

May 30, 2015

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Lawmakers leery of plan for company to run juvenile detention center

CARSON CITY — Assembly leaders were leery of the state’s recommendation to use a private company to reopen and operate a detention center for juvenile offenders in Las Vegas.

“I don’t like privatization. I have great apprehension we’re going to be left holding the bag,” Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Maggie Carlton said.

Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, questioned why the state couldn’t do the same thing as a private operator.

Amber Howell, administrator of the state Division of Child and Family Services, told a joint Senate-Assembly budget subcommittee that a state operation would cost $6 million to $8 million a year, while a private company would be paid $5 million a year to run the Summit View Correctional Center.

Howell said four companies are interested in running the facility, which has a 96-bed capacity and could also house out-of-state offenders. A contract is expected to be awarded in May, and the facility could be reopened in October.

Summit View was opened as a state facility, then run by a private company and then closed due to a shortage of state funding.

The state’s plan is to transfer some of high-security juveniles from the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko to the Las Vegas facility.

Howell said that a state worker would oversee the operation of the private facility to make sure it meets standards.

About $380,000 would have to be spent to replace furniture transferred to the other juvenile detention centers when Summit View was closed, Howell said.

Using a private contractor is going to get a more intensive review later by the legislative money committees.

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