Lawmakers urged to skip trip to view prison program
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Friday, February 14, 2003
By ED VOGEL
CARSON CITY -- Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley said Thursday legislators should not take a free trip to a Mexican prison to view an unproven drug treatment program that uses sauna and massage treatments.
Buckley, D-Las Vegas, expects most legislators won't take the March 1 trip to an Ensenada prison that is being arranged by Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, R-Reno.
Angle has been championing a program there that was developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. She is sponsoring legislation to put the program in women's prisons in Nevada.
The governor's office announced Thursday that Corrections Director Jackie Crawford will not travel again to the Mexican prison.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Crawford planned to take a second trip to the prison to view the Second Chance Program. Gov. Kenny Guinn's press secretary, Greg Bortolin, would not elaborate on why Crawford will not attend. He said only that an initial trip taken by Crawford to Mexico was not at taxpayer expense.
Buckley said legislators of both parties now express reservations about the program and are incredulous that a trip is taking place when the state is in a budget crisis.
Buckley said Arizona officials looked at the program two years ago and found it costs $15,000 a person for 3 1/2 months. They rejected the program not only for its costs but because program promoters did not track inmates once they left prison.
Assembly members Genie Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, Valerie Weber, R-Las Vegas, and Don Gustavson, R-Sun Valley, earlier signed up for the trip. Ohrenschall canceled, but Weber still intends to go.
"I want to keep an open mind about it," Weber said. "It may be a way to help the state save money." Weber said her trip is being privately funded.
Angle said philanthropist Russell Suggs has arranged for free trips for as many as 35 legislators.