High Desert State Prison (Nevada)

Coordinates: 36°30′45″N 115°34′56″W / 36.5125°N 115.5822°W / 36.5125; -115.5822
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
High Desert State Prison
LocationClark County, Nevada
Coordinates36°30′45″N 115°34′56″W / 36.5125°N 115.5822°W / 36.5125; -115.5822
Security classMedium-maximum
Opened1 September 2000
Managed byNevada Department of Corrections
WardenCalvin Johnson

High Desert State Prison is a state prison in unincorporated Clark County, Nevada, near Indian Springs, northwest of Las Vegas. It is the largest institution of the Nevada Department of Corrections and the newest, having opened on September 1, 2000.[1] It has a capacity of 4,176.


The 1,576,000 sq ft (146,400 m2) complex lies approximately 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Las Vegas along highway 95.[1] It was designed as the most secure prison within the Nevada Department of Corrections system. High Desert State Prison contains 12 housing units designed to house 336 inmates each. Each of units 1–8 are separated into four (4) sections called "pods." Each set of two "pods" shares a common control center and staff office. Each set of two pods also shares a sally port and an activity room. There is also a 26,000 sq ft (2,400 m2) infirmary at the institution. All of the facility is located at a 160-acre (65 ha) site which is kept secure by a lethal electrified fence and seven armed towers, as well as a roving perimeter patrol officer. Construction completed in 2009 added 1,344 beds to the original 2,671, for a total capacity of 4,176.[1]

The Tonopah Conservation Camp is associated with the prison. The Clark County School District provides the education program on site using 8 classrooms and 2 libraries.


The institution opened on 1 September 2000 and became the reception unit for southern Nevada. This facility was designed to be the first of several prisons to be built at this location. The facility presented many design challenges, such as electrical backup and water supply, and there have been difficulties in staff retention due to the remote location. The closest populated area to the prison is Indian Springs, 8 miles (13 km) north of the prison. To date, there have been two expansions. The first expansion, completed in 2004, added a 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) prison industries building and a gymnasium. The second expansion added four more housing units. High Desert is one of the largest prisons in the United States, and is a medium security facility. High Desert is structurally the most secure prison in the Nevada Department of Corrections.[citation needed]

Notable residents[edit]

Inmate Name Register Number Status Details
Chester Stiles 1036868 Serving 21 life sentences.[2] Convicted child sexual abuser who recorded himself committing rape with a toddler, as well as molesting a 6-year-old.[3][4][5][6]
  • O. J. Simpson, former Buffalo Bills running back, was briefly held at High Desert State Prison following his conviction in December 2008. He was then transferred to the Lovelock Correctional Center in Pershing County before being released in 2017.[7]
  • Musician Ronnie Radke was incarcerated in High Desert State Prison from August 2008 to December 2010 on possession of a dangerous weapon and probation violation charges.[8]
  • Chaz Higgs, a former nurse who was convicted of murder in the death of his wife, Nevada State Controller Kathy Augustine, is serving a 20-year to life sentence at High Desert State Prison.[9]
  • MMA fighter War Machine is incarcerated here. He was sentenced to 36 years to life for severely beating his ex-girlfriend, Christy Mack.
  • Thomas Randolph, a Las Vegas murderer, the subject of a 2021 NBC three-part Dateline documentary, "The Widower", by producer Dan Slepian. Randolph was found guilty in 2017 by a jury, of the 2008 first-degree murders of his 6th wife and his handyman. Randolph's crimes, the murder investigations, and his murder trial, were documented as part of a 13-year investigation by NBC. He received two death sentences in 2017. Those two death sentences were overturned on appeal in December 2020. No new trial date for Randolph has been set as of February 2021.
  • Erich Nowsch, convicted of the high-profile 2015 murder of Tammy Meyers in Las Vegas, which was the subject of multiple episodes of ABC’s show 20/20, is currently serving a life sentence in the prison.
  • Henry Ruggs III, former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver. Convicted of DUI resulting in death for the November 2, 2021 vehicular accident that killed a 23 year old woman and her dog. He is currently serving a sentence of between 3 and 10 years.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "High Desert State Prison". Nevada Department of Corrections. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  2. ^ https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/stiles-sentenced-to-21-life-terms-in-child-sex-assaults/
  3. ^ https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna21315592
  4. ^ https://www.cbsnews.com/news/conviction-in-toddler-sex-assault-case/
  5. ^ https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna29494367
  6. ^ https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-nv-sex-tape-trial-052909-2009may29-story.html
  7. ^ "OJ Simpson Arrives at Nevada Prison in Lovelock". KOLO-TV. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  8. ^ Zaleski, Annie (5 May 2011). "Rocker Ronnie Radke is out of prison and ready to make his musical mark again". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Court issues full opinion in Kathy Augustine murder", Las Vegas Sun, 15 Jan 2010

External links[edit]