NRS 211.120 thru 211.405 – Overview of the Policies Governing Inmates Working During Their Incarceration

murder stats in las vegasAccording to NRS 211.130, all prisoners sentenced by the judge of any district court, or by the justice of the peace of any Justice Court in Nevada, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment in any county, city or town jail or detention facility is automatically deemed to have been sentenced to labor during this term. Basically, if you are convicted of a crime and ordered to serve a term in prison, expect to work during your incarceration.

Working in the Jail

Nevada jails and detention centers have two activities to choose from – education/training or work. If you work, you’ll be earning credit towards discharge and parole. You will also earn small wages.

Things you might do include:

  • Clerical work;
  • Kitchen tasks;
  • Boiler operation; and
  • More.

Restitution Program

There is also a Restitution program available. This program releases the prisoners who live in a Restitution Center to leave to work in a job in the community and return to the Center at the end of the workday. Inmates must meet specific requirements to be eligible for this program.

Release for Work

If you were already working before you were arrested, and if you meet the criteria for this work program, you may be released on this program to be allowed to continue work at your present employment.


Every Nevada town, city, and county jail and detention facility have some educational resources available. Some county jails have basic and secondary classes available such as English as a Second Language and courses to obtain your GED. Some also have vocational training programs available.

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Release for Education Program

If you were already enrolled in an education program before you were arrested, and if you qualify for the program, you may be allowed to continue in your education through a release for education program from the jail during those hours.

If you’re in jail and your jail sentence doesn’t mandate otherwise, you’re automatically going to be working unless you enter an education program. There are work programs available in lieu of prison time, however.

There are requirements for entering the voluntary work or education program:

  • You must pass a thorough screening;
  • You must be a sentenced prisoner;
  • You must reimburse the town, city, or county for your room and board while participating in a program.

You’ll have plenty of warning if your confinement conditions will change or if changes in work or educational program will be affected.

“Confinement conditions” also include your ability to use the phone, access the law library, your visitation rights, your access to additional medical care, and the type of meals that are provided to you.

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Work Activities

When doing work in jail, you’ll be doing “public works.” These include things like cleaning or maintaining the town, city, or county, performing maintenance, landscaping, laboring on street construction crews, putting in sewers, etc. You can exchange ten hours of work on the “public works” for one day of physical confinement.

What Happens If an Inmate Does Not Want to Work While in Jail?

If you’re involuntarily assigned to work in jail, disobedience or disorderly conduct or refusal to faithfully complete your duties will result in disciplinary action. This could include solitary confinement for everyone’s safety.

The officer in charge will submit a report of the work done and the number of prisoners who performed the work at the month.

Optional Work Programs: Exchanging Labor for Confinement

There are eligibility criteria that you must meet before you can participate in this program. For example, you’re ineligible if you didn’t perform your duties when you were assigned work in jail. The chief of police or sheriff will also set rules in place governing how you are to perform the assigned labor on this work program. There may be an administrative fee to participate.

What If an Inmate Does Not Show Up?

When you sign up for the work program to exchange labor for confinement, you’re promising to show up at the job site every scheduled day. If you don’t, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor, and you may be returned to the jail cell once more.

Release for Other Reasons

A prisoner might also be released for no longer than 72 hours under certain conditions:

  • For other professional care;
  • For an emergency that would result in severe hardship otherwise; and
  • For other activities that the administrator deems useful to the prisoner’s successful return to the life outside of prison.

Early Release Due to Overcrowding

The judge, upon request of the sheriff or the officer in charge (in the case of the city jail), if the jail is overcapacity, may release a prisoner up to 30 days early if he’s served at least 75% of his sentence. He must be the prisoner closest to his release date that is currently non-violent and not serving for a violent crime.

Assistance Upon Release to Obtain Work outside Jail

Unless you’re ineligible for a license or didn’t provide proof of your age or identity, the town marshal, chief of police, or sheriff may help you get your license or state ID so that you can obtain work outside of jail. However, you must ask.

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