Nevada Launches Comprehensive Review Of Juvenile Justice System

CARSON CITY, NV - July 12, 2016

Governor Brian Sandoval, First Lady Kathleen Sandoval, Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta, and legislative and community leaders gathered today to launch a comprehensive review of Nevada’s juvenile justice system in an effort to further strengthen public safety and improve outcomes for youth in the state.

The Governor announced that The United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) selected Nevada as the only state that will receive technical assistance to undertake a comprehensive review of its juvenile justice system. The review will be led by the Statewide Juvenile Justice Improvement Initiative Task Force, which includes lawmakers, judges, state and local juvenile justice leaders, and other stakeholders. First Lady Kathleen Sandoval and Supreme Court Justice Saitta will co-chair the Task Force.

“Nevada has already positioned many of our children for greater success by seeing our incarcerated juvenile population reduced to its lowest level in 10 years and emphasizing supervision in the community where family and friends can support them,” Governor Sandoval said. “I am grateful that Nevada has been selected as the sole state to receive this technical assistance and would like to congratulate the First Lady and Justice Saitta for their hard work in bringing this initiative to our state.”

The Governor announced the initiative and reinforced its goals to determine whether state and local resources are being used efficiently and to build upon the momentum of recent successful legislative reforms in Nevada.

Between 2006 and 2014, Nevada saw a 47-percent decrease in juvenile arrests, including a 70-percent decline in arrests for violent and weapons offenses. Commitments to the Division of Child and Family Services for delinquent offenses also decreased by 54 percent over that same period.

Currently, Nevada lacks sufficient data to determine whether its juvenile justice programs and services are cost effective and aligned with research and evidence-based practices. The state spent approximately $28 million last year on its juvenile justice system, and Nevada’s two most populous counties—Clark and Washoe—spend $61 million collectively each year on community supervision and services.

“We’re spending millions of dollars on juvenile justice without a clear picture of whether this investment follows best practices and sets these kids up for success,” Speaker Hambrick said. “This initiative will provide lawmakers with the hard data necessary to craft meaningful policy and to improve accountability and transparency toward how these funds are used and determining the return on our investment.”

“From past efforts to increase information sharing between agencies to legislative reforms dealing with detention and the sealing of juvenile records, Nevada has long been a leader in creating a fairer, more effective juvenile justice system,” Justice Saitta said. “I look forward to working with my fellow Task Force members to tackle further challenges such as matching youth with appropriate supervision and services and collecting data on youth outcomes.”

The state and a majority of counties don’t currently track recidivism data, leaving policymakers, judges and juvenile justice agencies unable to determine who is cycling through the system and whether resources are being effectively used to strengthen public safety.

“Having access to this data will help us make sure that no child falls through the cracks,” First Lady Sandoval said. “For the first time, we will be able to see what is working and where we can do better. This will require a coordinated effort among the three branches of government, and a commitment to work together.”

Under the guidance of the inter-branch task force, the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, will conduct the analysis of Nevada’s juvenile justice system and report back to the Task Force, with the ultimate goal of considering the development of policy changes that may be introduced to the Nevada Legislature in early 2017.

About the CSG Justice Center

The Council of State Governments Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. It provides practical, nonpartisan advice and evidence-based, consensus-driven strategies to increase public safety and strengthen communities.


Office of the Governor . 101 North Carson Street . Carson City, NV 89701 . (775) 684-5670
Grant Sawyer State BUilding . 555 East Washington St., Suite 5100 . Las Vegas, NV 89101 . (702) 486-2500