By Kelsey Givens
With more than 23 years of work with Corrections Corporation of America facilities, Warden Charlotte Collins has brought her know-how and commitment to excellence to the Nevada Southern Detention Center.
Collins became the warden of NSDC in April, coming from the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey where she was named warden in 2005. She served as an assistant warden there as well.
Collins brings with her a vast level of knowledge and experience in working and running detention centers, having served as a program manager and chief of unit classification at Bartlett State Jail, and prior to joining CCA in 1989, working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as a correctional officer and correctional counselor.
Though she said all CCA facilities have similar procedures and protocols on how certain things are handled, like entry procedures into the facility, coming to a basically brand new facility and adjusting to the desert climate took some getting used to.
“All CCA facilities try to operate where our policies are similar, so it didn’t take long to adjust. The only real difference is the needs and wants of our customer, which in this case is the U.S. Marshals,” she said.
“But this new state-of-the-art facility with all the whistles and gadgets took some getting used to coming from an older facility,” the warden added. “In this innovatively designed building, you don’t have to worry so much about things like you would in an older building, things like leaks or other problems that come up with an older facility.”
Though the detention center she is heading now is newer and more advanced than where she was before, what has impressed Collins most coming in as the new warden of NSDC is the dedication, professionalism and amount of experience her staff has — something she believes she can use to take NSDC to the next level of service.
“There is so much potential with our staff and the training we provide for excellence here. Our staff has great attitudes every day coming into work … a lot of them came from other CCA facilities when this place opened two years ago with vast amounts of experience, and it’s just been amazing to see them come together and blend their experiences to operate this facility,” she said. “And the employees who came to us locally have been amazing too … the amount of potential we have here is just overwhelming.”
Now that she is fully acclimated to the facility, its employees and the community, the warden has turned her eye toward the future of NSDC, setting goals for both the detention center and its staff.
“For the facility, I want to establish the Nevada Southern Detention Center as a good neighbor to the community. We’re a large employer of members of the community and we’re solid,” she said. “We have an excellent team and excellent people working here. We just want to take our service to the highest level it can be.”
And the detention center, which holds federal pre-trial detainees and not sentenced prisoners, has been making strides toward that goal, donating funds to local organizations and looking for other ways to give back to Pahrump.
Collins said they’ve donated money to events like the Grad Night for local high school seniors and this holiday season have also hosted a toy drive to collect gifts for needy children in the valley.
“We do so much on so many different levels,” Collins said. “We give a substantial amount to local organizations like the community college, Nye County, the town, NA and AA, PRIP INC., Walmart, Pahrump Grad Night and Safe Night at the Nugget where this year we won first place for our booth. In the next year, we’d like to really put the rubber to the road and get my PIO public information officer out there more to be a liaison with the community and our facility, so if there’s something we haven’t tapped into here in two years, we can be a positive force in the community.”
Collins said in addition to giving to the community through donations and different projects, as warden of NSDC she will continue to focus on safety and training to protect the public, her staff and the detainees they house.
“Our main objective, first and foremost, is always the safety of the public, our staff and our detainees,” she said.
The warden said as part of that goal, employees are required to log a minimum of 40 hours of in-services and training each year, in addition to staying up to date on their certifications and participating in any other special training the facility needs to conduct based on issues they feel have arisen.
As part of that training, the facility even conducted a drill earlier this month where they teamed up with the Nye County Sheriff’s Office and Pahrump Valley Fire Rescue Services to make sure they know how to work together with those agencies, should they need their help in an actual emergency.
“Training is liability. If you’re trained to do a good job, when the time comes you know how to do a good job,” Collins said.
As Collins continues to guide her employees and push them to be considered some of the best in detention, she said she looks forward to continuing to work to make NSDC a positive force in the community and serving the U.S. Marshal’s service to the best of their abilities.
“I hope everyone understands us for who we are and what we do and that we can continue to be a very positive force and take our service to the highest level it can be,” she said.