Nevada’s landmark 2019 justice system reform bill, AB 236, contributed to a decrease in the state’s prison population of 3,000 people since its passage, according to an update provided by CJI Manager Valerie Meade and Senior Policy Specialist Abigail Strait in August.
CJI’s presentation to the Nevada Sentencing Commission outlined several key outcomes, including a drop in the prison population from roughly 13,000 in July 2019 to 10,000 in July 2022. Representatives from state agencies shared successes in implementation, such as rolling out staff trainings, updating policies in line with best practice, and supporting and expanding alternatives to incarceration like specialty courts.
CJI, funded by the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), supported Nevada leaders in developing policy and practice solutions to systemic criminal justice problems. Those solutions are reflected in AB 236 as part of the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative effort. CJI staff provide ongoing technical assistance to implement the changes.
Meade and Strait also highlighted Nevada’s new Virtual Crisis Care program that CJI helped design and launch. The program, funded by Helmsley Charitable Trust, is modelled after a similar effort in South Dakota.
The presentation emphasized that implementation is an ongoing process that takes continual effort and collaboration over several years, and barriers are common even without a global pandemic. CJI recommended that Nevada continue its work to enhance cross-agency collaboration, oversight and data tracking, and sustainability planning.