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Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Nevada Town Fights Proposed Prison

LAS VEGAS (CN) - Residents of Pahrump, Nev., want to stop a 1,500-bed private prison from going up in their small town 60 miles west of Las Vegas. Concerned Citizens for a Safe Community say Nye County officials shut them out of meaningful discussions about the prison and failed to draft a meaningful environmental impact report.

"Pahrump is a country town," the federal lawsuit states. "The citizens enjoy the starlight and the moon rising." The prison, they fear, "will be seen by almost every home in the valley ... and the lights at night will be unbearable for residents and the stars will no longer be visible."

The prison is to be run by the Corrections Corporation of America, a much-sued prisons-for-profits company that claims to be the largest private prison company in the nation. The federal lawsuit is unclear whether the prison would be for state or federal prisoners, though as a private contractor, CCA presumably could hold either or both.

The Concerned Citizens' lawsuit lists a host of things they are worried about, including the desert tortoise, burrowing owls and yucca trees, all of which call the area home. The lawsuit mentions the possibility of a form of "protest" in which prisoners flush all the toilets at once with solid objects in the drains; whether residents will get stuck with the bills to power the prison; whether the Nye County Fire Department will be able to fight fires there; and procedural issues.

The group also worries that the prison site is too close to residences and to a private airport, which "could facilitate the escape of prisoners ... (and) place Pahrump residents in grave danger."

They want the project stopped, and attorney's fees.

They are represented by Nancy Lord.

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