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Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform | NV

Nevada: 2013 |  2011 | 2009 



  • Conditions of Confinement  — Nevada Limits Use of Solitary Confinement: Nevada restricted the use of solitary confinement of youth in detention facilities statewide and banned the use of isolation as discipline or punishment. Youth may be held in solitary confinement only if they present a serious and immediate risk of harm to themselves or others and all other options have been exhausted, and the length of their confinement must be the minimum amount required to address the risk of harm. S.B. 107/Act No. 324, signed into law June 1, 2013; effective October 1, 2013.
  • Alternatives to Detention and Youth Prisons  — Loitering and Curfew Violations May No Longer Be Treated as Delinquency Offenses in Nevada: Nevada youth who violate curfew or loitering ordinances may no longer be adjudicated as delinquent, but must instead be treated as children in need of supervision. The law also reduces the number of days that youth may be held in detention or shelter care pending the filing of a petition alleging delinquency or need of supervision, decreasing the term from eight days to four. S.B. 108/Act No. 191, signed into law May 27, 2013; effective October 1, 2013.
  • Youth in the Adult System — Nevada Curbs Laws Treating Youth as Adults : Nevada raised the age at which youth may be automatically transferred to adult court for murder or attempted murder from 14 to 16. However, the law simultaneously lowers the age for prosecutorial transfer of felonies from 14 to 13. The law also allows youth charged as adults to petition the court to be held in juvenile facilities while awaiting trial. Lastly, the law creates a task force to study best practices for prosecuting youth as adults and the costs and benefits of such policies. The task force is to present its recommendations to the legislature in 2015. A.B. 202/Act No. 483, signed into law June 11, 2013; effective July 1, 2013, October 1, 2013 and October 1, 2014.
  • Youth in the Adult System — Older Youth Held in Adult Jails for Probation Violations are Protected from Longer Stays: A law limiting the length of detention to 30 days for youth under the age of 18 who violate probation now also applies to youth between the ages of 18 and 21 who have been placed on juvenile probation or parole and are being held in adult county jail. A.B. 207/Act No. 422, signed into law June 6, 2013; effective October 1, 2013.

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  • Organizational and Large-Scale Change — Supreme Court Commission Studies Use of Commitment: The Nevada Supreme Court Commission on Statewide Juvenile Justice Reform is studying Nevada’s use of rural state-run reform schools as placements for committed youth, as well the use of out-of-state placement of delinquent youth in residential treatment centers. The commission will study and evaluate the continuum of care to determine whether smaller, regional facilities are most effective and to assess whether the state should send only youth who commit the most serious offenses to secure placements. The commission will additionally consider redirecting more state commitment funds to community-based services and commitment alternatives, and look to identify long-term funding stabilization plans to prioritize juvenile justice funding in the state.

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  • Youth in the Adult System — Supreme Court Strikes Down Presumptive Certification Statute: The Nevada Supreme Court threw out the presumptive certification statute that allowed prosecutors to transfer certain cases to adult court, finding that the statute violated youths’ constitutional right against self-incrimination. Under the presumptive certification law, if a youth 14 or older was charged with gun crimes or certain sex crimes and the prosecutor moved to transfer the youth to adult court, the juvenile court was required to order the transfer unless the youth could rebut the presumption by establishing that he or she had substance abuse or emotional or behavioral problems that led to the commission of the crime(s). But by making that connection, the youth admitted to the crimes, and those admissions could be used against him or her in future court hearings. The court’s unanimous ruling states that the law’s “requirement that a juvenile admit the charged criminal conduct, and thereby incriminate himself, in order to overcome the presumption of adult supervision is unconstitutional.” The court also reversed a 1995 decision that said Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination did not apply in juvenile certification hearings because guilt was not being determined. The Nevada Legislature codified the court’s 2009 ruling and raised the threshold age at which a youth may be certified as an adult under presumptive certification from 14 to 16. In re William M., 124 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 95 (Nev. 2008); A.B. 237/Ch. 69, signed into law and effective May 11, 2009.
  • Organizational and Large-Scale Change — Committee to Evaluate and Review Juvenile Justice Issues: Nevada’s new Legislative Committee on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice is charged with evaluating and reviewing issues relating to juvenile justice, including community-based programs and services within and outside of the state; programs for aftercare and reintegration; overrepresentation and disparate treatment of minorities; gender-specific services; quality of care in state facilities; and the feasibility and necessity of independent monitoring of state facilities. The committee has the authority to conduct investigations and hold hearings in connection with its assigned duties and must report to the legislature every other year. S.B. 3/Ch. 452, signed into law June 4, 2009; effective July 1, 2009.
  • Juvenile Defense and Court Process — State Implements Indigent Defense Standards of Performance: The Nevada State Supreme Court adopted performance standards for indigent defense in April of 2009. The standards include a detailed section on delinquency cases, which covers the role of defense counsel, provision of adequate time and resources, client interviewing, detention hearings, plea negotiations, adjudication hearings, transfer proceedings, and many other topics.

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Photo: erjkprunczýk, under Creative Commons License.