Prison union says prison director soft on inmates

Director of Corrections Jackie Crawford, whose decisions to grant early release to more than 170 inmates is being investigated by the state, was hit with another attack Thursday as the State of Nevada Employees Association charged she is soft on inmates to the point where it is endangering security and prison workers.

"This soft policy has made it progressively more dangerous for officers as inmates feel more empowered now than ever before," said Del Mallory, one of SNEA's lead organizers.

He cited the May attack by 15 inmate gang members on three correctional officers. He said prison workers have charged those gang members were "pampered" with a pizza party when they were transferred to Nevada State Prison.

"Make no mistake about it: The assault on staff was a result of misguided policies by the Department of Corrections," Mallory said.

Those inmates have since been transferred to Ely State Prison.

John Collis, also a lead organizer for SNEA, said it is becoming increasingly dangerous for correctional officers.

"These officers are in a position now where the safety of the public may not be a reality," he said. "Given the current environment, it is all these officers can do to ensure the safety of their own."

Crawford was ill and unavailable for comment Thursday.

Deputy Director Greg Cox said he believes the system has a better handle on security issues now than ever before.

He said numerous changes were made after the May incident and that "we have procedures and plans in place to deal with those type of inmates. He said they also have much better intelligence about the different inmate groups and leaders.

"We have more knowledge and more things going on than ever before. We've done more in the last year than at any time in this department to deal with those types of inmates."

Crawford's decision to grant good-time credits to more than 170 inmates has been criticized by district attorneys among others. The governor's office has ordered an audit of those inmate records, including the case of James Yach who was released in August after 81Ú2 years in prison for a driving under the influence accident which resulted in the death of a Las Vegas man. Stop DUI of Las Vegas has objected strenuously to that decision saying there is no evidence supporting the granting of work credits to Yach.

The other cases involve "merit" credits which are allowed at the discretion of the director for exemplary conduct by inmates. Governor Guinn's Chief of Staff Mike Hillerby has promised a full investigation of those cases.

- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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