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Ask Joe: Why did Nevada wait months to pay inmates who worked during floods?

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Friday, July 14 2017

From the Ask Joe file, one of our viewers has a question about the inmates who get paid to fight fires and help with flood prevention in Nevada.

One of our viewers, Sam, wrote in asking why did it take so long for inmates to get paid for the work they did after the floods this winter?

Here's what I found out:

Inmate crews do get paid when they're called out to help with emergency response to fires or floods. The going rate is usually $1 dollar an hour.

I reached out to several people with the Nevada Division of Forestry but they are all tied up working on the fires right now. However I did find some information through the Legislative Counsel Bureau about this.

There was a special appropriation made in late May of 2017 as part of Senate Bill 524 for $182,000. I'm told that was the money inmates had earned when they were put to work to help with the flooding. But NDF ended up with a budget shortfall this year.

Because of that shortfall, the agency wasn't able to reimburse the Nevada Department of Corrections for the work the inmates had performed.

The legislature ended up approving a special expenditure of $182,000 from the state's general fund as part of a supplemental appropriation. The bill was signed by Governor Sandoval on May 31st and that cleared the way for the inmates to actually get paid for the work they did months before.

Again, I couldn't get a hold of anyone at NDF about this by our deadline so there are still a few dots to connect on this story as far as why NDF had to get legislative approval. But at least we know the inmates did get paid and lawmakers did have to approve that expenditure.

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