Nevada’s move to ban for-profit prisons was struck down at the finish line last week when Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill that would have prohibited their use by the state law enforcement, citing the possibility that for-profit prisons have a larger role to play in managing the state’s incarcerated population.
Assembly Bill 303 would have provided the Department of Corrections five years to renovate existing facilities, allowing for out-of-state and private prison use in the interim, before eliminating the state’s relationships with the for-profit operators.
In his statement on the veto, Governor Sandoval pointed to an encroachment on the authority of the executive branch as well as the possibility that overcrowding in the state’s facilities may require the option of utilizing private prison beds out-of-state.
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, D-North Las Vegas, a former corrections officer, introduced AB 303 and reportedly worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections to deal with concerns that implementation would be too costly. The state is currently operating at over 183 percent capacity, well over emergency levels.
Nevada is currently not using any contract prisons, though Pahrump, in the southwestern part of the state, is home to Nevada Southern Detention Center, a private detention center owned by CoreCivic being used by the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
However, the recently-approved state budget included funding for 200 private prison beds, representing a new use of contract prisons for the state. The failure of the bill suggests that additional inmates may be shipped out of state in the future.
AB 303 was one of seven that received the governor’s veto on June 8.