Legislative Commission’s Subcommittee to Study the System of Juvenile Justice in Nevada
Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 13, (Statutes of Nevada 1999)
The A.C.R. 13 Subcommittee to Study the System of Juvenile Justice in Nevada was specifically created to continue the study of juvenile justice issues first conducted by the A.C.R. 57 subcommittee during the 1997-1998 Legislative Interim. The passage of A.C.R. 57 by the 1997 Legislature directed the Legislative Commission to study specific issues related to the system of juvenile justice which resulted in the development of a comprehensive long-range plan to improve the juvenile justice system.
The creation of the A.C.R. 57 subcommittee and the subsequent approval of recommendations by that subcommittee were due primarily to issues addressed by the money committees during the 1997 Legislative Session. The single most important issue faced by the money committees during the 1997 Session was overcrowding in local county juvenile detention centers. The Nevada Youth Training Center at Elko and the Caliente Youth Center, both state operated youth training facilities, were operating at or above capacity and were unable to accommodate the transfer of committed delinquent youth to their facilities.
This resulted in a peak number of 103 youth, as of March 1, 1997, that were “backed up” in local county detention centers awaiting acceptance into state training facilities. The 1997 Legislature approved several new programs and funded numerous capital improvement projects for the construction of juvenile detention and correctional facilities to address the juvenile detention “back up” and overcrowding issues. While these actions greatly assisted in the resolution of those problems, it became apparent that a more comprehensive study of the juvenile justice system in Nevada was necessary. This led to the A.C.R. 57 subcommittee, who also concluded that a second phase of discussion, oversight and consideration of these issues was necessary to continue the comprehensive approach designed to result in meaningful improvements to the juvenile justice system. This resulted in the passage of A.C.R. 13 by the 1999 Legislature.
Therefore, the primary mission of the A.C.R.13 subcommittee is to review and evaluate progress made on the 15 recommendations formulated, considered and approved by the A.C.R. 57 subcommittee. In fulfilling this mission, the A.C.R. 13 subcommittee has held three meetings, the most recent on February 24, 2000. The first two meetings focused on the review and discussion of various requirements and reports in relation to the recommendations approved by the A.C.R. 57 subcommittee. In broad terms, those reports and responses include progress made on: the development of placement instruments; additional intermediate sanctions and corresponding interventions for juveniles; various needs assessments; an evaluation of juvenile gang activity in Nevada; a review of school violence; and the potential to restructure the state-county relationship in juvenile corrections.
The subcommittee’s third meeting focused on a presentation by noted criminologist and juvenile justice consultant James C. “Buddy” Howell, Ph. D. Dr. Howell, through coordination from NCSL, assisted the A.C.R. 57 subcommittee in designing a “blueprint” for the development of a Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Plan for Nevada. Dr. Howell’s recent presentation to the A.C.R. 13 subcommittee, also arranged by NCSL, consisted of a review and evaluation of the reports and responses and progress made on the prior A.C.R. 57 recommendations. More importantly, Dr. Howell provided the subcommittee with additional recommendations to continue the refinement and design of a Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Plan for Nevada. The A.C.R. 13 subcommittee will discuss those suggested recommendations, as well as others, during a planned work session in April 2000. The subcommittee’s work will culminate in June 2000 with formal consideration of and voting on potential recommendations formulated during the April 2000 work session.