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Running out of room at the Clark County Detention Center

Reported by: Jeff Gillan
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Updated: 8/12 10:51 pm

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The Clark County Detention Center houses thousands of inmates, and with more arriving each day, the jail consistently is overcrowded.

It is one man's job to make sure the bad guys stay behind bars while a good portion of the main jail is under construction.

Todd Fasulo is Metro's Deputy Chief in charge of detention. He has to find beds for the increasing jail population even as a major portion of the facility is under renovation. 

The influx of inmates at the detention center is bogging down the system. Fasulo says a primary cause of the overcrowding is the slow pace of the courts.

If the detention center were a hotel, at a total capacity of 3,793 beds, Fasulo would be running one of the biggest resorts in the city.

This, of course, is no resort.

It is a jail. His "guests" include some very dangerous people and he has an overcrowding problem.

"The issue is that the Clark County Detention Center is the melting pot for the criminal justice system," Fasulo said. "So we house everybody. We meet regularly with the judges, with the district attorney, and with the public defender's office to find ways to reduce the population."

The number of bookings has actually dropped the past two years. Over the past two months, they're down almost six percent.

However, once suspects arrive, they are staying longer.

"Average length of stay has gone from 18 days to 22 days in the last year and a half or so, which means everybody, regardless of the classification of the crime they were arrested for, is spending more time inside our jail," Fasulo said.

Different factors cause that.

If an inmate is supposed to go to another facility and it's full, they wait here.

An extra four days doesn't sound like much, but Clark County is currently housing 3,800 inmates. Slower turnover clogs the system, and 33 percent of the inmates here are serving their sentences here.

They're not going anywhere.

Fasulo says that he's running 200 to 300 inmates over capacity at any given time.

"We're seeing arrests reaching our capacity, but we are really by how fast the courts and attorneys can get people through the criminal justice process," Fasulo says. "If that process speeds up, then obviously we have some flexibility with the number of beds we have for people being arrested and coming in jail."

Then there's the construction.

The north tower of the detention center is being renovated, which is taking 421 prison beds out of service.

That is forcing Metro to move inmates around and in some cases, rent space in other jails in the Las Vegas Valley.

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