Las Vegas Sun

April 28, 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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  1. The need is there, and it all boils down to dollars and cents. Put it out to bid, with the state having the option to say they would prefer to do it (if they can meet or do with less than those bids, given inventory and resources the system already has).

    Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Maggie Carlton is correct in being cautious with, ""I don't like privatization. I have great apprehension we're going to be left holding the bag,"" and is the concern of Assembly Majority Leader William Horne,who wondered why the state couldn't run the center. The cheapest bidder isn't always the best deal, by the way.

    One consideration is the fact that this situation is dealing with JUVENILES, not adults. It must be a tight, seamless system of management, no room for errors or problems. Hopefully, all the pros and cons will be on the table for parties to make the best possible decision given the situation.

    Blessings and Peace,