Behind bars

RN&R photographer David Robert goes behind the scenes at Washoe County Jail

Few humans would willingly want to stay at the Washoe County jail, but it’s the first step for some inmates who are on the way to Nevada’s overcrowded prisons.

It was built to house 1,228 inmates. Last week, at the time these photos were taken, there were 1,250 prisoners.

It costs $83.51 a day to house one inmate, and they are billed for it. About a half-million meals will be served each year.

The facility is incredibly clean. The cleaning is done by the inmates, along with cooking, housekeeping and laundry.

The cells are 7 feet 6 inches by 12 feet. The average stay is 17 days, though some may stay up to a year.

Inmates told me this is the best jail they’ve been in. It has also had other visitors—tours by dignitaries from other nations and Amnesty International.

The jail offers church on Sunday, domestic violence programs, substance-abuse help, parenting classes, and GED (general education diploma) programs.

One surprise was the frame of mind of the inmates who were relatively upbeat and kept active. The jail is busy 24 hours a day. The design of the jail may have been partly responsible for the level of activity: It’s a fairly bright place.

Deputy Brooke L. Keast was the guide for this tour. She was free with information and helpful in getting access.

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