The makeup of the inmate population at the state prison in Golden Valley keeps changing. The general public that was sold on the initial promise that the facility would house DUI offenders upon opening became outraged when escape-related publicity in 2010 revealed that more than 100 convicted killers were housed there.
The killers were jettisoned to other holding facilities but problems persisting at the prison led to early July rioting that caused more than $2-million in criminal damage to the facility. Now the Department of Corrections has decided that one of the two units at the prison will be exclusively reserved for convicted sex offenders going forward.
The Hualapai Unit of the prison houses 1,400 prisoners. Less than 300 inmates were held there in early December because portions of the unit will still be undergoing repair into next spring.
Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder said the Department has decided to reload the Hualapai Unit with “general population sex offenders” because they should pose fewer problems than their predecessors.
`We’re putting in an easier to manage population, so that’s a positive for those working at the facility,” Wilder said. “This population is generally and typically much easier to to manage and causes fewer problems than other populations and that’s a positive in that we will probably not see a repeat of some of the issues that have occurred there in the past.”
Wilder said it should be noted that the sex offenders to be housed in the Hualapai Unit are not among the other class of sex offenders held at other facilities that require segregation and more intensive management. He said both classes of sex offenders represent about 4,900 of the 43,000 inmates housed statewide.
And Wilder said there need be no concern that the sex offenders will be turned out into the community upon completion of their sentences.
“When they near their release date they’re going to be transported to a state facility for processing and release (elsewhere), so they’re not going to just walk out the dor which might allay or assuage some concerns,” Wilder said.
As of early December the 2,000 inmate medium security Cerbat Unit of the state prison in Golden Valley housed 1,851 inmates. Full capacity of that unit is targeted in the spring as well.
The Florida-based GEO Group assumed operational responsibility for the prison on December 1, replacing former operator MTC.