Pahrump, NV – Prisoners in the Pahrump jail have been shipped out to other locations while the county investigates mold found behind the laundry machine.
Bob Jones, Nye County facilities manager, said he received air samples Wednesday which showed the jail was safe to be reoccupied. The buildings and grounds department took the opportunity to make some repairs to the kitchen area during the shutdown, he said.
The mold was discovered Jan. 7 during a health inspection. Jones said inspectors wanted a sink removed, but when they opened up the wall to change the plumbing, the mold was discovered. Sheriff Tony DeMeo said the mold was believed to have been caused by a leak from the laundry machine.
“It’s mold based on the description of it, but we don’t know if its black mold,” DeMeo said.
The transporting of prisoners to other county jails will cost about $10,000 in overtime, he said. Prisoners were only held in Pahrump jail when they had court appearances and then in a short-term incarceration area near the booking area.
“Females went to Beatty and the male prisoners went to Tonopah. We only held them briefly for court appearances and then transported them back,” DeMeo said. “We’re doing a lot of transportation. We’re doing daily transportation.”
So what about those guilty of minor infractions in Pahrump, like the drunk who has to sleep it off? They may be getting a break.
“We’re still arresting those who are a threat to the public safety, but other persons who have committed misdemeanor crimes without an immediate threat to public safety because of the type of crime are being cited and released,” DeMeo said.
The Pahrump jail has had only a couple of overnight prisoners instead of the usual 28 to as many as 50 inmates, the sheriff said. The jail has a capacity of 36 prisoners.
DeMeo recalled when the Pahrump jail was closed due to a fire a couple of years ago. The entire courthouse was closed in 2001-2002 due to mold, but the jail remained open.
DeMeo said the circulation was shut down in the affected area and heavy plastic put up. Equipment was moved very gingerly out of the room.
Jones said DeMeo could have kept the jail open and just closed off the kitchen and laundry area but chose to close off the whole jail just to be on the safe side.
“We haven’t had any complaints about mold or anything. It was just a small area. We ended up taking out about 12 feet of the laundry wall,” Jones said. “There were no complaints of anyone getting sick.”
Jones said buildings and grounds also stripped the kitchen walls, put in fiberglass-reinforced plastic panels in the kitchen area, installed new lighting and painted the floor.
DeMeo said nobody really noticed the closure with their emergency plan in effect.