Second in a Series Exposing Negligence Within Nevada’s Prison and Parole System
A Public Slate Exclusive
When an individual is convicted of a felony, the next step is for the court system to decide a fair punishment. Although the attorneys involved and the prisoner have a clear understanding of what the maximum sentence will entail, the Nevada State Parole Board often fails to respect the decision of the court. This failure to release a convicted felon when his maximum incarceration date has passed is not only inhumane, but costly to taxpayers.
Prisoners who have been convicted of one type of crime have been singled out above all others to remain in the prison system after their release date. Surprisingly they are not murderers or perpetrators of other violent crimes, they are sex offenders. Because the Parole Board keeps shoddy records of parole hearings, it is difficult to ascertain why this pattern exists. Is it because of the attached stigma, or is it because of personal prejudice by the Parole Board?
Mercedes Maharis has spent years searching for answers regarding this issue. The lengthy time involved was due to the lack of transparency of the Parole Board. Ms. Maharis obtained information over an eleven month period; from July 2013 to May 2014 involving 423 inmates who were convicted of various sexual offenses. Using the latest figures indicating the cost per day of incarceration for each prisoner, the eleven month figures are astounding and deserve the attention of Nevada’s citizens.
Calculating parole board actions from the prisoners’ firs parole eligibility dates, 423 individuals’ days behind bars were 804,705 days, or 2155.9 years, which have indebted Nevada taxpayers in the future for megamillions, without additional medical, programming and administrative costs, costs which were not available to Ms. Maharis.
This additional time added by the Parole Board without the oversight of any other division of the prison system, or the courts, will cost Nevada taxpayers $45,571,387.86 during their extended stay behind bars. These figures do not include the costs of medical care, rehabilitative programs, or administrative costs, however.
The Las Vegas Review Journal published an article on February 16th, exposing parole board actions. This was subsequent to my first article on February 14th. Without access to Ms. Maharis research, their figures regarding the cost of extending sentences beyond parole dates are considerably lower. The RJ posted a figure of about $4 million dollars a year to house 365 inmates who should have been paroled.
Ms. Maharis’ figures appear to be more accurate. The cost of each inmate according to the RJ for a single day was listed as $54.15. That figure for 365 days is $19,764.75 for each prisoner. Multiplied by 365 prisoners brings the total to $7,214,133.75 for the year 2014. Nevada’s taxpayers are supporting prisoners whose parole date has expired at the cost of $601,177.81 per month. Added expenses related to continued incarceration including medical care, rehabilitation programs, and administrative costs are unknown.
Nevada’s failed parole system must be rebuilt from the ground up and approach each case in a warranted personal evaluation. There is absolutely no excuse to keep a prisoner incarcerated after completion of their sentence, without documentation of additional offenses while in the prison system and an outside new decision by the court system. The cost is unnecessary and without justification.
A new bill has been introduced to the Nevada Legislature this year pertaining to the prison system and parole board.
In the third and final edition of this expose, I will reveal the human cost; the inequitable figures revealing loss of life while in the prison system for sex offenders. I will also inform readers of programs adopted by other states which have proven effective in rehabilitation efforts, and greatly reduced recidivism.
By James Turnage
Source: Ms. Mercedes Maharis, MA, MS, MA