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September 17, 2014

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Henderson formalizes contract to house federal prisoners

The Henderson City Council approved a contract with the United States Marshals Service on Tuesday night to house federal prisoners in the city’s detention center, formalizing an agreement between the two sides that has been going on for four years.

The Marshals Service pays Henderson $96.96 per prisoner per day, which at a projected average of 20 prisoners per day, is expected to generate more than $700,000 per year for the city’s General Fund.

Henderson has similar deals to house all of Boulder City’s inmates for the same daily rate, and a deal to house inmates of Metro Police for $101 per day, Henderson Police Department spokesman Keith Paul said.

The detention center has 273 beds, Paul said, and though the population of Henderson and Boulder City inmates fluctuates, he said the department has daily contact with the Marshals Service and Metro Police to take on their inmates and keep the facility near capacity.

Inmates of the Marshals Service that are housed in the detention center include “individuals charged with federal offenses and detained while awaiting trial, individuals who have been sentenced and are awaiting designation and transport to a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility, and individuals who are awaiting a hearing on their immigration status or deportation,” according to the agreement.

Paul said the estimated daily cost of housing a Henderson or Boulder City inmate is $105, but that figure includes paying corrections officers and utilities for the detention facility — expenses the city pays regardless of the presence of any contract inmates. Since those costs are fixed, he said, filling up the jail with inmates from other jurisdictions only creates the added expense of feeding them, meaning that most of the money collected can be used to line the city’s coffers.

“We already have the corrections officers working,” Paul said. “It’s not like we’re putting on more officers or turning on more electricity. These contract prisoners are filling beds that would otherwise be empty.”

The amount Henderson brings in from housing contract prisoners is expected to increase soon, as the city is preparing to begin construction on a $35 million expansion to the detention facility that will add 250 more beds.

The expansion’s design is expected to be complete by the end of the year, and construction is expected to begin in January and last about 18 months, Henderson City Architect Mark Hobaica said.

Though several of Henderson’s proposed capital investment projects have been indefinitely delayed as part of the city’s budget cuts, Hobaica said the detention center expansion was allowed to continue because it had already been funded before the city’s budget crisis and was identified as priority project.

“The detention expansion was put on the top of the list,” Hobaica said. “It’s the only major capital project that’s moving forward.”

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