Undercurrent

Families to ask Sisolak to stay prison commissary profits

By: - August 29, 2022 10:33 am
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(Photo: Nevada Department of Corrections)

A 40% markup on commissary items sold to inmates in Nevada prisons is inconsistent with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s goal of ensuring the well-being of the state’s children and families, and should end, say members of Return Strong, an advocacy organization. They’ll ask Sisolak on Tuesday at the Board of Prisons meeting to stay the markups.

In fiscal year 2020/21, the state earned more than $5.2 million in profit from prison commissary items and visiting room vending machines, according to a state audit.

“Governor Sisolak repeatedly posts about protecting and ensuring that Nevada children and families are taken care of,” says an email from the organization’s founder Jodi Hocking. “Well, we are not!” 

 The Feb. 2022 audit cited a previous audit that found revenue from the Offenders’ Store Fund was not properly managed, and that NDOC had yet to adopt regulations “through the public rulemaking process.” 

The governor’s office referred the Current to NDOC. In a statement, Deputy Director William Quenga  said NDOC Support Services is “in the process of putting together a comprehensive analysis of the cost and profit margins. For now, it’s important to note that while other states pay for the program out of the general fund, in Nevada, the program is largely self-funded. Profits from the commissary pay the salary of the staff to run it, as well as for indigent services.”

Families and loved ones of people incarcerated in Nevada say they are dealing not only with the loss of income of the incarcerated loved one, but also the state taking “profit off the backs of working families trying to survive in the face of rising rent, (and) inflation…” 

The group is also opposing a prohibition on allowing inmates to receive printed information from the internet via mail. They intend to present a petition with signatures Tuesday of individuals opposed to the change, which they say is designed to curb drug trafficking through the mail, but is ineffective in doing so.

Note: Updated with comment from NDOC. 

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.

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