CARSON CITY, NV - August 02, 2018
Governor Brian Sandoval today announced a comprehensive review of Nevada’s criminal justice system, with the goal of developing data-driven policies to better protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control growing corrections costs.
Governor Sandoval, together with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Michael Douglas, Speaker of the Assembly Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, requested technical assistance through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. They have charged the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) with evaluating the state’s criminal justice system and developing policy recommendations to be considered during the 2019 legislative session.
Over the next six months the ACAJ will analyze data on the state’s prison, parole, and probation populations; review research on what works to reduce recidivism; and examine effective criminal justice policies in other states.
“Smart criminal justice is a priority for my administration and I am confident that we can find ways to both make our communities safer and cut the growing cost of Nevada’s corrections system,” Governor Brian Sandoval said. “With the ACAJ, we have the right people and the right process in place to generate policies that will improve public safety by keeping violent and career criminals behind bars and directing resources to programs that reduce rates of re-offending.”
According to research commissioned by the legislature, Nevada’s prison population increased by 11 percent between 2010 and 2016, driven in part by a staggering 35 percent increase in the female inmate population. The rising prison numbers have caused Nevada’s annual corrections budget to grow by 14 percent over the last decade, reaching $347 million for the 2019 fiscal year.
“Continuing business as usual is not an option for us,” Senate Majority Leader Ford said. “Our overburdened corrections system cannot continue to divert funds from our state’s necessary educational, healthcare, and economic development programs.”
Additionally, parole release rates have been inconsistent over the last several years. This, along with a projected continued increase in prison admissions, will lead to substantial growth in corrections spending over the next decade. Absent changes, Nevada will face the prospect of building new facilities or contracting with other states in order to house the growing population.
This growth has not resulted in improved public safety in Nevada – recidivism rates remain high, with one in five prison discharges and one in three parole releases failing the terms of their community supervision within three years of release.
“Our first priority as elected officials is to ensure Nevada families are safe and secure in their homes, community, and state,” said Assembly Speaker Frierson. “Sending more people to prison per capita than our surrounding states at a high cost to our taxpayers particularly with respect to non-violent offenses, does not protect our neighborhoods but instead perpetuates the cycle of poverty. I am proud of the work we have done in a bipartisan manner with Governor Sandoval and his work on criminal justice reform will be part of the legacy he leaves to our state.”
“The ACAJ has been dedicated to looking at these issues for over a decade,” said Chief Justice Douglas. “It is comprised of key stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and experiences in the field who will make thoughtful recommendations on how to improve Nevada’s criminal justice system.”
The ACAJ will receive technical assistance from The Crime and Justice Institute (CJI). Since 2008, CJI and its partners at the Pew Charitable Trusts have worked with more than a dozen states including Alaska, Utah, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Louisiana to implement policy changes that simultaneously reduced the prison population and cut costs without increases in crime.
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