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CARSON CITY – The Crime and Justice Institute on Wednesday, Oct. 10, presented new findings to the Nevada Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) showing that inmates are spending significantly more time on average behind bars since 2012, contributing to growth in the overall prison population.

The average length of stay in Nevada’s prisons increased 31 percent over the past six years, according to CJI’s analysis of state data. The presentation was the second of three CJI will deliver to the ACAJ as part of Nevada’s effort to find ways to reduce recidivism, hold offenders accountable, and give taxpayers a better return on their public safety investment.

CJI has been working with stakeholders in Nevada since May, when state leaders requested CJI’s technical assistance. Ultimately, CJI’s data analysis will allow the ACAJ to develop policies to address obstacles facing Nevada’s criminal justice system.

CJI’s analysis found that one reason for the growth in time served was the increase in both the average minimum and maximum sentences imposed between 2008 and 2017. Minimum sentences increased 16 percent for inmates convicted of drug offenses and 8 percent for those convicted of property crimes. Time served for individuals convicted of a non-person offense also increased by 30 percent since 2012.

Most prisoners can earn credits toward an earlier release while in custody. But in 2017, inmates who were sent directly to prison upon conviction – as opposed to those incarcerated for a parole or probation violation – served an average of 129 percent of their minimum sentences. While parole is the primary opportunity for release from prison, over the past decade parole rates have fluctuated. Forty percent of inmates released in 2017 served their sentences without being paroled.

CJI will present data on community supervision at the upcoming ACAJ meeting on Nov. 8. The ACAJ will investigate strategies for reducing recidivism to help craft policy solutions to recommend to the Legislature in January 2019.

Read more about criminal justice system improvement in Nevada.