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Warden 'Putt Off' by Driving Range

Nevada: Inmates can play ball instead, prison director decides.

August 25, 2002|BRENDAN RILEY | ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

CARSON CITY, Nev. — When some Nevada inmates who wanted to work on their golf game started to build a driving range, the state prison director got a bit teed off. So now the range is a ball field.

Prisons director Jackie Crawford said convicts at the prison system's 100-inmate Tonopah Conservation Camp got the idea for their own driving range after volunteering time to build one for the city.

"Our inmates made a beautiful driving range for the city," Crawford said when asked Friday about the convicts' activity. "Then they said, 'Why not make our own?'"

"So they cleared sagebrush and they moved a lot of rock and they moved some sand around -- but it [the inmates' range] never materialized."

"I told them to take the rocks and the sand away. It's a softball field now."

"I can assure you that there are no golf courses at our prisons," she added. "Not under this director."

Softball's another matter, she said, adding, "That's something all the prisons should have. It helps expend energy."

Even if the driving range had remained, it wouldn't have been a big expanse of green grass -- not in the arid central Nevada desert.

"You have to laugh," Crawford said. "It would be like a golf course on the moon."

The driving range the inmates built for the city of Tonopah has an artificial turf area where golfers stand. The balls are smacked into the desert.

"That's one nice thing that came out of this," Crawford said. "The city has a driving range for its residents, and we were happy to do that for them."

The director, who has developed a reputation for making changes within Nevada's prison system, said golf for convicts won't be one of the changes. "But what we are going to do is make contributions to the community, give something back to the community."

Besides community service, inmates at the minimum-security Tonopah camp serve on state Forestry Division crews.

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