For the third summer in a row, overcrowding at the Douglas County Jail has lead to a court order that authorizes the early release of low-level offenders who are not considered a danger to the community.
Douglas County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Howell said two women were released this week because of a shortage of beds for female inmates.
"One woman was released eight days early on a forgery charge. The other woman was released 20 days before she was due on a probation violation for embezzlement," Howell said.
He obtained a court order from District Judge Dave Gamble that outlines the terms of early release under Nevada Revised Statutes.
"In the last week, we've been getting more and more crowded as the summer goes along," Howell said. "We ran into a three- or four-day period when we had more female inmates than beds."
Howell said the court order is restrictive as to who is eligible for early release.
"It can't be somebody in custody for a crime of violence or domestic battery," he said. "The inmate can't be a danger to anyone and must have served 75 percent of their sentence."
Howell said the jail is allowed to release eligible inmates in accordance with the number of beds that are necessary.
He explained if he had five inmates who met the criteria, but only needed two beds, that's the number of inmates who would be released.
Howell said the jail has a capacity for 98.
"But that can be a misnomer," he said. "It goes by classification. We have 72 beds for males, 16 for females, four for medical segregation and six beds in holding and intake."
Howell said inmates could be moved to Carson City, but Douglas County would be charged a housing fee and that jail is full, too.
He said the overcrowding is being felt all over Northern Nevada.
"The U.S. Marshal wanted us to house 30 inmates because all the local jails are full," he said.
Howell said the court order is effective for 30 days, but can be renewed if the overcrowding persists.
Douglas County commissioners will discuss adopting a resolution to place an advisory question on the general election ballot for voter approval of a .5 percent increase in the sales tax. The revenue would be used to hire additional deputies, more personnel for the county's criminal justice system and to fund facilities. The item is on the agenda for the 1 p.m. Thursday at the Douglas County Administration Building (old courthouse), 1616 Eighth St., in Minden.
For information, call 782-9821.